The Importance of Hydration: Water on the go

Learning how to hydrate is an important part of being outside in the Arizona summer. Drinking should be simple enough, but it’s not. Sedentary people drink: runners hydrate. When and how to hydrate is an art unto itself. Common logic suggests that we should drink when we’re thirsty. But common logic
doesn’t apply to marathon training, with long runs lasting two-to-three hours.

Desert denizens

Living in the desert, most people understand the importance of drinking water, especially during our hot summers. What many people don’t realize is that it’s just as easy to become dehydrated in the winter, when running out of doors feels comfortable.

Even when the weather is cool, our bodies need water to produce sweat. Sweat promotes cooling of the muscles and skin by releasing heat created during exercise into the ambient air. Sweating makes the body a more efficient machine. It is important to remember the body loses water through breathing, the warm dry air dehydrates the lung tissue.

It’s just as important to start drinking early in the run, before there are any symptoms of thirst. It takes about twenty minutes for water to be absorbed into the body. The trick is to drink enough fluids to prevent decreases in blood volume. When that happens, muscles have to work harder, and the risk of injury increases significantly.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking when you are thirsty and not letting yourself feel dehydrated. When it is hot this could mean up to 1.5 Liters per hour. Some people who are more acclimated to the weather and fit could require less water.

Water versus sports drinks

Water is the best way to hydrate on runs lasting under an hour. Assuming the runner is eating a good diet, he’ll have enough carbohydrates in the tank to fuel the body during a relatively short run.

For runs or activity over an hour, it’s better to consume sports drinks, that replace sugar and electrolytes along with fluid. For people with sensitive stomachs, finding a sport drink they can tolerate may present a challenge. One option is to dilute the drink with water, making it easier for the stomach to absorb.

Another option is to drink water and take electrolyte tablets which contain no sugar. Runners with extremely sensitive stomachs may do better eating natural foods such as unsweetened banana chips in place of sports drinks or energy gels.

Too much of a good thing

Hypotremia, otherwise known as water intoxication, is a potentially fatal condition that can affect endurance athletes. It often happens during long races, where there’s a water station at each mile marker.

While experienced runners tend to know how much water they need, new runners who drink only water at the aid stations may create an imbalance of electrolytes in the body. The symptoms of hypotremia are dizziness and muscle cramps. In severe cases, the runner may faint or go into a coma.

The best way to prevent hypotremia is to drink when you are thirsty and ingest adequate electrolytes in the form of sports drinks, electrolyte tablets or energy gels. Runners need to learn the early signs of hypotremia just as they understand dehydration, and seek immediate medical assistance
if they find themselves in distress.

The perfect balance

Training for a marathon is more than logging miles; it’s a dress rehearsal for race day. Learning how to hydrate on the run is just as important as deciding which shoes will ward off injury and what socks will prevent blisters.

For more information on marathon training, log onto our web site at visit the resource section for more information on injuries and conditions.


Dr. Carson Robertson is in private practice at Alpha Chiropractic. His clinic services the chiropractic, massage therapy, and physiotherapy needs of the Chandler, Ahwatukee, and Gilbert area. He has a special interest in athletics, running, and soft tissue injuries. Carson Robertson DC can be reached at (480) 812-1800.

Audrey Garcia is a licensed Physical Therapist. She has a focus on hip, knee, leg, ankle and foot injuries. As a Physical Therapist she has rehabilitated numerous patients after their surgeries to a full and
complete recovery. Audrey serves the Chandler, Gilbert, and Tempe communities.

1801 W. Queen Creek Road Chandler, AZ 85248 Telephone (480) 812-1800

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