Thursday, July 5, 2012

Deadhorse Climb and Exercise Induced Dehydration

Deadhorse Climb and Exercise Induced Dehydration

One of the things I've noticed in my short racing experience so far is how fast people run the downhills. Since I've never raced prior to this summer, I have developed a tendency to run in the mountains and simply enjoy the views, unconcerned about my time or pace. However, this spring/summer I've tried to really begin training and working on different techniques in order to prepare for racing. One area that I need to work on are my downhills - not because they blow my quads our, but because I tend to sit back and sorta coast more then actively run and push as I'm descending. This works for fun mountain runs, but in races this strategy has resulted in significant time loss. So today I ran the Deadhorse Climb, which is a nice 9.1 mile out and back with 1,770' of up and another 1,770' of down. Not only did I push on the ups, but I really tried to go fast on the downhill and to keep that pace going for the entire 4.5 miles of downhill. It took me 1:26 minutes today. This will require some more work, but my goal is to be able to push the pace on the entire 8.5 miles of downhill at the Steamboat 50K in 3 weeks.

Dehydration is a big concern for runners, and especially ultra or trail runners. Getting caught out in the mountains dehydrated is not something you want to experience. But how much does being dehydrated impact one's running performance? A new study looked at just this question, and came away with an interesting answer: if you lose greater then 2% of your bodyweight to water dehydration, then it is likely that your performance will suffer. Anything less and most likely it will not impact your race performance. So, drinking enough fluids is of primary concern during any race or run, but you will not really notice any performance impacts until you have lost at least 2% of your bodyweight, if not more (this study indicated possibly up to 4% or greater). How much liquids one needs to drink to prevent this type of water loss depends on numerous factors: individual perspiration levels, ambient temperature and humidity, pre-race/run hydration, fitness level of the runner, and so forth. Other then being tested in a lab, I don't think you can create a formula that will work for everyone. Rather, what this study implies is that making sure you drink enough fluids during a run/race is important, but even more important is to realize that unless you become severely dehydrated (the human body starts to shut down at around 5% dehydration of bodyweight), you will not experience a significant impact on your actual performance. So, drink, drink, and drink, and then don't stress too much about it - more then likely you will be fine and the worry and stress could have a bigger impact on your race then the actual dehydration.

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