Hydration Helps You Perform at Your Best

April 2, 2014

Spring is finally here and with it comes an increase in walks, runs and marathons for those of all skill levels. Here are some tips from Mercy Sports Medicine's Dr. Brian Mahaffey on how to keep yourself hydrated before, during and after your event.

You’ve trained hard for months to run your race. A little bit of attention to what you eat and drink before the race can make sure all that hard training pays off.


During the week leading up to the race, slowly increase the amount of carbohydrates you eat and drink. You should peak in the last two days prior to the race. Drink plenty of water and electrolytes before race day. If you start the race behind on hydration, you likely won’t perform at your peak, and your chances of having a medical issue go up significantly. This is also a good time to cut down on caffeine, which can slowly rob your body of the water it needs.


Be sure to drink plenty of water during the race. Hydration is critical, in moderation. Too much water decreases your sodium levels and may lead to severe medical issues. In addition to water, give your electrolytes a boost with sports drinks, energy gels, chews, jelly beans, etc. Keep in mind, this isn’t the time to try something new. Many runners will have gastrointestinal issues if they try to use a product their body’s not used to.


Just like before the race, good hydration and diet are very important to your recovery. The first hour after the race, it’s vitally important to replace half the fluids and electrolytes lost during the race. The last half should be replaced over the next day. The easiest way to judge how much fluid you need is to weigh yourself before and after the race. Then drink one liter of fluids per one pound of weight loss. Stretching and massage can also help to improve blood flow and get lactic acid build-up out of your muscles.

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