Running 101: Hydration or Lack Thereof

This is the 3rd installment of my series, Running 101, where I share lessons learned from my Teaming In Training experience.  The subject of this weekend is obviously staying hydrated or avoiding dehydration.  I am beginning to think I have a problem in this area.  I haven’t nailed it down quite yet, but I found a lot of good information to share regardless. 

This weekend, I had another 4 Mile run.  It was not my best time 48:08, but not my poorest either.  I faced two obstacles on Saturday.  The first was hills, I personally felt like they were mountains. Krissy, who actually runs mountains would laugh at the speed bumps I called hills, but hey, they were my first pair.  Yes, there were two – The Gateway Bridge from LP Field to 2nd Ave and then the long, lonely climb up Broadway to 12th.  I say lonely because while I was digging in my car for my sunglasses the rest of the team left me. So much for teaminess.  I’m thinking I don’t like hills or mountains or speed bumps. Inclines of any degree just don’t seem to suit me much. Maybe it’s just a beginner thing, like talking & running at the same time. Still not comfortable doing that either.

On to the second obstacle… chills. This is the 4th time I’ve experienced chills somewhere in the middle of the run that progresses to a point that I have to stop running or I start to feel light headed and a bit of numbing, tingling in my hands, lips. Nice, huh?  I even did that last week with my best time (44:47) and it was a decent run. But in general this little problem I’m having is killing my times. Well, and beyond that I don’t want to stroke out or anything serious.  Here’s the history:

  • Westhaven 5K:  1st occurrence – very bad, light headed, very dizzy, walked most of the last mile. Heat was unbearable, very dehydrated, little water on coase (remember my story of drinking from the hose)
  • Fleet Feet 4 Mile: 2nd occurrence – very mild, no dizziness, continued run/walk ratio, was ok. Weather perfect 70s, that’s the day that I ran in the rain, hydrated well day before, morning of & during the run.
  • Centennial 4 Mile: 3rd occurrence – medium chills, no dizziness, reduced run/walk ratio, was ok. Weather hot, heat was getting to me. Missed water stop #1. Hydrated well day before, ok morning of.
  • LP Field/DT 4 Mile: 4th occurrence – bad chills, light headed, light dizziness, reduced to walking middle of 4th mile, hydrated so much i was drowning the day before. Drank 32+ oz pre-run, 8 oz Ml 1, 10 oz Ml 2.  It was hot out, felt very overheated. 

So there it is.  Witheach run I hydrate more & earlier in the week, especially the day before, carry water with me, drink more at the water breaks, etc., etc. And all I can keep thinking about is Hal Higdon and my TNT nutritionist saying that overhydrating is bad, even dangerous.  Apparently it can kill you by throwing off your electrolytes in such a jacked up fashion your electrical system (i.e. heart) stops. So I’ve got that to think about too. 

Asking my TNT coaches & some other running friends I get the same answer over and over again… you have to drink more. But I feel like I’m missing a piece of the puzzle.  Because I’m a drinker in general.  If I’m at home I have a beverage with me. I don’t get in the car without getting a drink out of the frig to come along for the ride. When I go to work I have to have a drink at all times.  We are a genetically thirsty family.  So I’m very aware of increasing my consumption. It’s preoccupied me and yet I’m still getting the chilly-willies.

Here’s some things to think about from some research on the net…

Runner’s World:

  • As little as 2 percent dehydration will have a negative effect on your race performance.
  • Symptoms include thirst, dizziness, weakness and nausea. Serious dehydration can lead to cramps, chills and disorientation
  • To determine how much liquid to take during a run or race, you need to know your sweat rate, and that can vary between 1 and 4 quarts per hour. Weigh yourself nude before a timed training run, and then again after. One pound of weight loss equals 1 pint of water loss. Calculate your sweat rate and use this to determine your fluid needs during a run or race. For example, if you lose 2 pounds during an hour run, that’s 2 pints or 32 ounces. Thus, you need 8 ounces of water or sports beverage every 15 minutes.

For more information, check out this really great article also from Runner’s World:

REVISIONIST DRINKING – Water, water everywhere… but how much do you really need? By Sally Wadyka


And I actually read somewhere, I think Cool Running maybe, that humidity can prevent you from sweating normally and cause issues too?  It seems heat and humidity play a huge roll in to it for me.  If anyone else has any really great advise or ideas, please speak up.  I have more people telling me in person they are reading and I know some of you actually run quite regularly!  Share your voice, please! 

So what’s my next step?  I guess bringing the scales to a run to do the math. I guess there will be more to follow.  Right now, I have to go take a potty break from drinking all this water!  Nighty night!   


8 thoughts on “Running 101: Hydration or Lack Thereof

  1. One thing to try might be an electrolyte additive to your water bottles during your runs, or carrying sport beans or a different type of fuel to have with your water.

    While I hydrate before and after running, it was just recently that I picked up a few different fuel belts and began carrying water and fuel (shot blox, sport beans) with me. I add Luna’s Electrolyte Splash powder to my water, and it has helped immensely. No more feeling like drained in the middle of a long run!

    Also, when I get home, it’s good to remember to not slam as much water as possible to cool down. I did that recently after an 8 mile run, and had a headache for most of the day. We chalk that up to having flushed out all the good electrolytes I had consumed during the run with all the water I drank immediately post run. Oops.

  2. GREAT post! I’ve just started running within the last couple of months and came across your blog from a quick “running” search on summize. Your post is so timely – thank you!

    I experienced chills recently during a run and knew something was out of the ordinary, but didn’t know what/why. this is so helpful.

    Thanks again. Will be good to subscribe to your feed to follow your progress as I continue my journey.


  3. Great advice, I personally do a bit running, mostly on treadmills, and find I need to drink minimum 1 pint an hour whilst running otherwise my performance does degrade.

    Where can you get these electrolyte additives though? I’ve not seen them anywhere (but I suppose I’ve never really looked) I’m in the UK.

  4. The electrolyte additives that my TNT coach uses are called Electro Mix and you can buy them at Wild Oats . They are good way of getting in your electrolytes without unwanted sugars and calories. You can probably google it and find something in the area or on the net to order. Thanks for stopping by Water Coolers!

  5. Amy, catching up on my blog readn’ and wanted to comment here… especially after my heat and humidity meltdown in France. I agree with the NEED for electrolyte replacement… my supplement of choice Endurolytes from Hammer Nutrition (they’re considerably lower in sodium for good reasons). But an element that needs to be mentioned and why I slowed in Nice is/was Heart Rate.

    Heat has an accelerating factor on heart rate. Since my training had been in mostly mid to low humid conditions in the 60s-70s going to high humid and mid 90s causes the heart to pump more blood to produce a cooling effect on the body. Sustaining a high heart rate whether hydrated or not will have adverse effects on performance is the key reason why people quit in competitive situations. Simply put… there are only so many heart beats to allow you to perform optimally; if you go beyond that too soon you’re body knows it and endurance becomes difficult and a gamble. Therefore, for me since my training was less quantity this year and more quality I went in with less “heart beats” and had to conserve as I went along. That’s why you’ll see in my race report my reason for walking segments was to get the Heart Rate DOWN.

    Do you wear a heart rate monitor? if not… ask a coach or read up on the subject and learn to train with HR and learn the instinctive aspect ratio of HR to RPE (rate of perceived exertion). And this can help you train / race to your body’s potential rather than what your brain (who will be the best source of talking you out of going on) tells you.

    I hope that helps…

  6. Dan, your the man! I have been reading a bit on the subject and I think you may have nailed my missing piece of the puzzle. I purchased a Nike Imara HRM from Costco about a month ago and have never set it up. I didn’t even know if I would need it but for $35 I couldn’t pass it by. Tomorrow I’m running a 5K and have it all set up & ready to go.

    Heat is definitely impacting my HR, which is impacting my performance. If you look at my last 3 runs, they were all 4 miles long and I hydrated better on each run. Yet the only run that I had really bad chills and light headedness was the one I hydrated the most, but it was also the hottest & most humid. The other days the heat didn’t get to me that much and I didn’t feel the same impact.

    Thanks for such great info!

    PS Awesome Job in Nice! You are a Rockstar! I twittered some of your stats for a while to keep folks updated. It was great to be able to follow along.

  7. Hi, Amy. You really have a challenge on your hands. I mean not only being competitive with your team but you are also competitive with yourself. I don’t run much anymore, but as a new resident of Las Vegas, NV, proper hydration has become a major concern of mine. And with this, I’ve been studying alkaline ionized water. Learning that disease thrives in an acid body environment, I’m hoping to avoid disease with a diet of alkaline water. The ionization of water is supposed to make water better hydrating because it is restructured to smaller clusters. I have recently purchased a counter top machine to produce alkaline ionized water. I can’t believe the difference it makes. You actually start craving the water.


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