The Importance of Hydration
Hello 3-day walkers! I’m back from being a bride and have decided to write another ambassador post about the importance of hydration. Hopefully this is not new information for any of you, but it is so important that I thought I’d spend a whole post talking about how important drinking water and hydration drinks really is.
Thankfully I am a big water-drinker. I drink water all day, regardless of whether I’m walking or not. However, I do make a big effort to drink even more water when I’m walking. The temperature in this part of New Orleans is about that of the surface of the sun and the humidity is 99% on a dry day. Sometimes my schedule only allows me time to walk when the sun is high, making it VERY hot. So hot, in fact, that I’ve noticed that the tops of my shoulders are sweating. That’s intense.
My head knows the importance of drinking water on hot days, training or not. But this past Saturday I stumbled out of bed and realized that I better get walking quick or I’d never do it. I threw on clothes, put my contacts in, and grabbed the dog. 3.5 miles later in the blazing hot sun (you don’t think I got out of bed before 8am, do you!?!?) I was so hot and thirsty that I knew I was dehydrated. I drank several glasses of water and relaxed in the cool air conditioning before showering up and starting the day. All in all, I was fine. But after getting the shakes later in the day and starving even after lunch, I realized that I would not have made it 20 miles on the poor foundation I created that morning.
Drinking water is crucial for success on the 3-day. Everyone is different, so learn how much water your body needs while you are training so that you don’t have any dehydration problems on the walk itself. The 3-day officially recommends that you drink an extra 8 glasses of water in the 24 hours prior to exercise (which means you should be drinking 16 glasses of water pretty much everyday!), 2 glasses 2 hours prior to exercise, 4-5 ounces of fluid while walking, and continue after exercise. Remember that once you start exercising, you need to alternate between water and sports drink. (This information is all found here: http://www.the3day.org/site/DocServer/3Day_2009TrainingTip18Fluids_v01fp.pdf?docID=2458)
The 3-day also recommends that you should be using the restroom every 3-4 miles and that your urine should be light in color. (Conveniently, this is about how far apart the port-o-potties are on the 3-day!) I know this isn’t pleasant to think about, but you will want to get to know your body really well BEFORE the walk. I have not found a way to determine the color of my urine in a port-o-potty, and those are the only options on the 3-day! This means that while you are training, you should be following a strict hydration pattern to determine if your body is getting (and retaining) enough liquid. If you can’t tolerate Gatorade, be sure to eat salty foods during and after a long training walk.
In my 3-day experience, it is irritating to stop at every pit-stop to go to the bathroom. I think port-o-potties are just as disgusting as the rest of you. But, the 3-day does an EXCELLENT job of having more than enough at every pit stop (except the first one on day one, but that’s not their fault!) and there are delicious snacks at every pit stop as well. Submit yourself to the fact that in order to stay healthy, you are going to have to stop at (nearly) every pit stop. Make sure that you are drinking enough water and sports drink to make that happen. Eat peanuts, chips, and pretzels on the walk in order to maintain hydration.
While you might know all of this in theory, it is important to put it into practice. Train in the heat, just be sure to drink lots of water before, during and after. (And don’t forget sunblock!!) Also, if you’re looking for a healthier option than Gatorade, try G2. (If only I were famous and for the mere mention of products would get a truckload!)
I have decided to continue 3-day blogging over here. As I continue to train, I’m sure I’ll come up with more things to write about. As always, please feel free to e-mail or comment questions!