June 23 is National Hydration Day, and as the weather heats up, it’s important to remember to replace fluids lost to sweat and activity. Disney Sports caught up with Olympian and official runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway for an exclusive conversation, getting his expert tips on staying hydrated while training this summer.
During the conversation, Galloway discussed a range of topics, such as why water is better than sports drinks during running; why trying to set a personal record in the summer is maybe not the best idea; and how much water is too much when training.
Below is an excerpt from that conversation:
Disney Sports: We’re getting into summer and it’s getting hotter and hotter. If you’re training this time of year for a race, how can you be sure you’re staying properly hydrated?
Jeff Galloway: You want to have a hydration program that goes all day long, every day. The recommendation generally for decades has been an 8-oz. glass of water every hour and a half, for a total of 8 glasses a day. That’s pretty good. But where people err is during the summer, people get busy and they don’t drink enough. So, if they’re exercising, they’re running on empty, and that’s a problem.
Going into your runs, a person should drink 2-4 oz. of water every two miles. You can adjust that based on what’s best for you, but the bottom line is you will be losing more fluid than you can absorb. If you try to drink the amount you’re losing, you made induce a condition called hypernatremia, which is when the body has too much fluid.
Be mindful of the amount you’re consuming in an hour. No more than 20 oz. If you’re drinking 20-oz. in an hour for several hours, you’re at risk of hypernatremia.
DS: When running, what is better to hydrate with – water or a sports drink, like Powerade?
JG: According to digestive research I’ve read, the electrolytes you consume from a sports drink can’t really be processed during a marathon or a long run. The other thing is, they are more likely to lead to nausea, and I am against puking!
The difference between running and other sports [like football or basketball] is that you are stopping and going. When you’re stopped, the exertion level goes down. When a player goes to sit on the bench, it goes down further. At that point, electrolytes can be digested. With long distance running, you’re continuously exerting. There’s very little blood flow going to the gut, so very little gets absorbed. So the benefit from electrolytes that you see in other sports just isn’t really there during distance running.
DS: Is it more beneficial to hydrate before or after a run?
JG: If you’re running first thing in the morning after you wake up, it’s always good to drink a glass of water first, as you are dehydrated from not drinking anything while you sleep. But it also depends on how long the run is. The bottom line is if you drink too much before a long run, you’ll need to go to the bathroom frequently. My recommendation is as soon as you wake up, drink a glass of 6-8 oz. of water or a cup of coffee. This gives you a change to hydrate, but still use the bathroom before a long run. If a short run (70 min. or less), drinking right before won’t be a significant benefit.
DS: How do you need to hydrate differently for a hot and humid climate like the southeast, verses arid and dry, like out west?
JG: The guidelines really hold across climate. What can happen in dry climates, though, is that people will not feel they need to drink as much fluid. They feel cooler and more comfortable because of the evaporation effect. You don’t get that effect in humidity; you get into the cycle of getting hotter, so you sweat more. But it’s important to keep consuming fluids, even if you don’t feel hot.
One way to help stay cool and hydrated is to pour water over the top of your head regularly on a run. If you’re in a humid climate, an additional thing you can do is have an ice chest of ice water and run loops in such a way that you can come back to it every mile and a half. If you pour water on yourself, it gives you a good relief for at least a mile from the heat build-up.
After a long run or a hard run, people are really thirsty and want to drink three or four glasses of water right away, but you need to pace. If you introduce too much fluid to the body right away, it can make you sick, or worse. There have been cases where people have died after a race because of how they drank.
DS: What you eat is also a factor for hydration. What should you eat – or not eat – while training to stay hydrated?
JG: What you eat can cause more problems when it’s hot. Nausea is induced when stress level builds up, but particularly from exertion. One of your brain’s best ways to shut you down when you’re getting too hot is to make you puke. It’s very effective! Because then you stop and cool off. You should monitor your food intake so that you’re eating things that will digest easily, and not eating large portions as you get close to a run. You should avoid overeating and things that don’t digest well, such as fatty foods or too much protein (like a whole steak or multiple chicken breasts).
DS: How does the heat impact how a person should train, if at all?
JG: You need to slow down when running in the heat. Most of our runners live in the southern portion of the U.S., and our guideline is slowdown 30 seconds per mile for every 5-degree temperature increase above 55 degrees. (If you’re in a country that uses kilometers, you should decrease your pace 20 seconds per kilometer for every 2.5 centigrade increase above 14 Celsius.)
You need to run slower because it can be very dangerous, running in the heat. Heat disease is the leading cause of death for runners. It happens because people don’t slow down, so they’re overexerting and pushing their core body temperature up. If you make the adjustment to more walking and less running, it’s possible to train in the summer without getting close to heat disease.
Another way to stay safe while running in the summer is to get your run in before the sun gets above the horizon. The low overnight in some places can be 95 or even 100 degrees, so once the sun comes up, it can be even hotter, especially in humid conditions.
For more training and hydration tips from Galloway as well as more information about the runDisney race series, which offers participants the opportunity to experience magical miles through the theme parks of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California and Disneyland Paris in France, visit runDisney.com. Also, for information about the Galloway Training Program, click here.