Think good hydration is just about a glug of on-the-bike water (or a swift half post-race)? Think again. Keeping the body fuelled for exercise is vital and the consequences of drinking too little, or indeed too much, can range from race-ending to life-threatening; but the good news is that the science behind it is relatively straight forward. Cyclo spoke to Andy Blow of PrecisionHydration.com, a company offering a range of products and services designed to pinpoint individual hydration strategies to maximise exercise performance.
Cyclo: Is there a timeline for hydration/re-hydration strategy?
Andy Blow: Absolutely, optimising hydration around the pre/during/post exercise window is critical to ensure that all aspects of your physiology are working at 100%. Body fluid plays a central role in transportation the nutrients to working muscles and the brain, disposal of waste products and temperature regulation so if you end up with low body water (or start an event with tanks only half full) performance is inevitably compromised somewhere along the line.
Cyclo: How soon before an event should you start to consider your hydration?
AB: Hydration for an event starts 36-48 hours prior. At this time it is a good idea to start consuming fluids with a moderate amount of sodium (such as a low calorie electrolyte drink) in preference to plain water. This helps the body to absorb more of the fluids consumed and ensures that blood sodium levels are not diluted by too much plain water. Drink to thirst and at a rate reasonable for your body size and the environmental conditions; a big guy in a hot/humid environment is obviously going to need to drink a lot more than a small lady in a cool environment.
Reduce the amount of tea, coffee, alcohol and any other diuretics that may cause you to pee more in the final 24 hours as this helps you body hold onto fluid more effectively.
Cyclo: Any easy ways of checking that you are drinking the right amount before an event?
AB: To check your general hydration status, monitor the colour of urine. It should be a pale, straw like colour. If you are peeing infrequently and it is very dark you need to drink more, if you are peeing very frequently and it is completely clear in colour you are probably over drinking, so slow down.
The full interview with Andy Blow will feature in issue 3 of Cyclo for iPad coming soon. For issues 1 and 2 take a look at Cyclo in the iTunes Store – issue 1 is free, issue 2 just £1.49
For further information on Precision Hydration, including details of where and how to arrange an individual ‘sweat test’, see: PrecisionHydration.com