By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.
As the months get warmer, more of us are motivated to be outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather. Training increases and so does our need for water. With summer in the south comes the threat of dehydration, an enemy that you do not want to encounter. During this time of year, all of us should be carrying water with us on our walks. There are new fanny packs with water bottle holders that are comfortable and lightweight. The best are found at running specialty stores such as Fleet Feet Sports in Atlanta, The Runner’s Edge in Boca Raton, and Sandon Sports in Clearwater, to name a few. There’s no reason for any racewalker to go without.
Most racewalkers are dehydrated most of the time. That’s a big problem for those of us who are training for summer races. Page Love, the owner of Nutrifit Consulting, in Atlanta says, “dehydration is the number one nutritional cause of poor performance.” According to Page, water is important to a racewalker because, “it helps your body regulate temperature, prevents heat exhaustion, and helps to transport nutrients and energy to the muscle tissue.”
The problem is that most exercisers wait until thirst tells them to drink. Unfortunately, that’s too late. By the time you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Early warning signs of dehydration are calf cramps or fatigue. Later warning signs (while you’re walking) are light-headedness, disorientation, or dizziness. Stop walking, get into the shade and immediately drink plenty of water. If you do not carry a fanny pack with water, make sure you often pass a place that you can keep your water bottle. If you want to know if you’re well enough hydrated, remember that the lighter the color of your urine, the better hydrated you are.
If you’re training for summer racewalks, follow these tips from Page Love:
• Drink water continuously throughout the day.
• Drink before becoming thirsty.
• Consume two to three cups of water as part of your pre-race meal.
• Consume cool water which is the best fluid replacement for races that last less than 60 minutes.
• Consume one-half to one cup of water every 15 minutes in a race in hot and humid conditions.
• After the race, drink two cups of fluid for every pound of body weight lost. Replace fluid quickly (within a half hour.)