by Gina Shell
Drinking is a necessity for survival. When running in warm weather, you sweat. You also sweat in cold weather, especially if you are overdressed for the run. Regardless of the weather, too much sweating can and will cause dehydration. Your body temperature rises and performance drops when you become dehydrated. Too high of a body temperature can result in death.
Most runners sweat efficiently and adapt to changes in temperature. However, when running a longer race (for example a marathon), it is important to take in liquids to balance the liquid loss from sweat. The average sedentary person loses two quarts of water a day in normal temperatures. A marathon runner can lose that much in just one half hour, depending on the temperature.
Sweating is a natural effect of exercising. I always say nothing beats a great sweat! Every muscle in your body produces heat that converts to energy very efficiently, resulting in excess heat that needs to be eliminated. Sweating sheds that heat.
The body sweats when the brain tells it to sweat. Part of your brain detects a rise in blood temperature as it circulates, raising the body’s core temperature. Your body has anywhere from two to four million sweat glands. Perspiration begins immediately when we start to run. A rise in the runner’s body temperature begins the process for the production and excretion of sweat. If the water lost during exercise is not replaced, you increase your risk of heat illness, and you will impair your performance.
Now, from experience, when running a shorter race, I never took water. In a marathon, I did take water to replenish, but not enough for what I was sweating out, just enough to quench my thirst. After the marathon was finished, I always drank plenty of liquids to rehydrate, and you should too. But, be careful not to excessively hydrate. You can tell during a race if you need water or not. Most races have at least one water stop (for example at most 5k races), and some races have even more. A rule of thumb that I and fellow Fayette Striders have followed, no matter what time of the year, is to always have a bottle of water or water bottle filled in the car somewhere!! Stay hydrated, and you will maximize your performance.