Big Peach Running Co. Suwanee staffer Austin Bonds shares the ins and outs of hydration to help you feel Peachy while training!
If you happen to visit the front or back bathroom of the Big Peach Running Company Suwanee store, you might see this unusual phrase on a sticker affixed above the toilet. “What Color is Your Pee?” The question is personal, yes, but it highlights the significance of hydration for runners. The sticker depicts a droplet of water with five distinct facial expressions. The fully hydrated droplet is donning sunglasses and grinning ear to ear; however, as dehydration begins to set in, that cheerful grin morphs into a ghastly grimace. The droplet color changes too as pale yellow becomes a frightening brown.
Though the bathroom sticker uses humor and wit to simplify the subject of hydration, adequate fluid intake is serious stuff as it has an effect on both performance and health. The possibility of dehydration is amplified in the summer, and Deep South runners have the added bonus of intense humidity on top of the already unforgiving, sweltering heat. Incidentally, this sounds like the inscription on the back of our namesake RUNATL shirts: Heat, Hills & Humidity. With this in mind, what does a good hydration strategy look like? Here are a few principles worthy of consideration.
1. Know thyself. This should come as no surprise, but it’s worth pointing out nonetheless: runners are different. To put another way, runners have diverse goals associated with their exercise regimen. This, in turn, influences hydration needs. A runner out for thirty minutes or less is unlikely to need fluid during a run, but someone who laces up for sixty minutes (or more) will need to replenish fluid loss by way of water or other products (more on these later).
2. Invest in good gear. Though running shoes are typically the most scrutinized purchase, there’s much to be said about the products that complement a solid pair of sneaks. When it comes to hydration, Big Peach offers a wide selection of products across numerous brands, including Nathan, Amphipod, Camel Bak, and Fitletic. Within this category are bottles of diverse shapes and sizes, waist belts, and vests with a bladder (reservoir) for those lengthy treks that span hours on end. Storage for stuff is standard practice now as hydration products continue to become more and more functional.
3. Exercise restraint. Runners have a tendency to drink too much water during a run in an effort to avoid dehydration. This can create sloshing in the stomach or a condition known as hyponatremia (a low sodium level). To avoid this, resist the urge to drink water at every mile during a run or a race.
Knowing your needs, acquiring the right hydration products, and drinking to thirst (a summary of principle three) provide a stellar starting point for finishing a run or race strong. One question lingers, though. What specific fluid should be used to hydrate? Water unequivocally occupies the top spot but runs that exceed an hour in length reveal the importance of electrolytes (namely sodium and potassium) and carbohydrates.
Numerous runners use a gel and water to sustain energy levels for long or hard workouts, but some products bring hydration (electrolytes) and nutrition (carbohydrates) together into the bottle. Accelerade, Tailwind, Skratch, and Heed are four such products available at Big Peach. So – which one should you opt for? Our advice resides inside of one word: experiment. Experiment with different products and find one that works well with your body and creates no stomach distress.
Hydration seems like a complex topic at first glance, but we would argue that it is fairly straightforward. In fact, the bathroom sticker referenced earlier provides a simple way to gauge whether the body is properly hydrated. The next time you visit the bathroom, be it at a Big Peach store nearby or in your own home, take a moment and observe the color of your pee as the color matters.
Brown is bad. Gold is good. Pale yellow is perfect.
Aim for that.
Austin Bonds is a Guest Advocate at the Big Peach Suwanee location.