Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Importance of Being Earnestly Hydrated

Finishing up mile seven was harder than I expected. Although I had run fairly well this morning, the last half mile just got slower and slower. And then in the last 400 meters, I had to take a quick pit stop for 15 seconds to collect myself. I was dizzy, disoriented and covered in salt. It doesn't take a genius to determine that I was dehydrated.

I jogged out my last 200 meters, chugged at the drinking fountain and took a break before I got in the car to drive home. Since I broke down my seven miles into three sets, I don't think I realized how dehydrated I was. And had I not stopped when I did, I would have surely collapsed on the track.

Dehydration is dangerous. You've probably seen the Gatorade commercial featuring triathlete Chris Legh's near-fatal collapse only fifty meters from the finish of the 1997 IronMan. He hadn't been able to keep fluids or food down during the race and had become so dehydrated that his organs began to shut down. Legh changed his sports nutrition and hydration with the help of the Gatorade Institute and, last I checked, has been doing all right. Man, makes you want to drink Gatorade (that marketing will get you every time).

Fact is that dehydration frequently catches people off-guard. Be aware of dehydration symptoms and learn how to prevent dehydration while training.