How Water Directly Affects Your Race Results
A lot of working class athletes don’t drink enough fluids. This leaves them continually teetering on the edge of dehydration.
When in this dehydrated state, recovery is compromised and the risk of getting sick increases.
Drinking water throughout the day is one of the easiest and most effective ways of boosting athletic performance. Because sports drinks and most fruit juices are high to moderate on the glycemic index, the best fluid replacement between sessions is water.
Dehydration reduces plasma. This makes the blood thick and forces the heart and body to work harder to move it. Even when slightly dehydrated, performance intensity and duration are negatively affected.
A 2% loss of body weight in fluids will slow your racing performance by about 4%.
That’s almost 5 minutes in a 2 hour race! When time is critical, as it is in most endurance sports such as cycling, running and triathlon, you must keep well hydrated to keep the pace high.
A 68kg adult will lose a bit more than 2 liters of body fluids a day just in living. This does not even include training. Half of this is lost through urine at a rate of about 30 mL per hour. Heavy training or a hot and humid environment will increase the loss to 8 liters daily through sweating.
Unfortunately, the human thirst mechanism is not very effective.
By the time we feel thirsty, we are already on our way to dehydration. After long and intense training or racing, it can take 24 to 48 hours to rehydrate if thirst is the controlling factor. In complete contrast, a dog will drink up to 10% of its body weight immediately after exercise, replacing all lost water.
It’s important to drink water steadily throughout the day even when you’re not thirsty. You can use your rate of urination and urine color as guide. You should need to visit the toilet at least once every two hours during the day and your urine should be clear to straw colored. If you’re not achieving these standards, drink more.