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University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Korey Stringer Institute

Information for Endurance Athletes

It is critical for endurance athletes to ensure adequate hydration throughout an athletic event due to the elongated time period in which sweat can be lost from the body.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following for fluid replacement:

Prior to exercise:Prehydrate with beverages several hours prior to exercise. Consuming beverages with sodium can help stimulate thirst and retain needed fluids.

During exercise: Consistently consume fluid throughout exercise to replenish fluid lost. Routine measurement of pre and post exercise body weight is useful for determining sweat rate and developing a customized fluid replacement program. For athletic events lasting longer than an hour in duration, sports drink or electrolyte supplement consumption is recommended.

After exercise: Continue to consume fluids to replace fluid lost during exercise. If rapid recovery is needed from excessive dehydration, drink roughly 1.5L of fluid for each kilogram of body weight lost.  Consuming sports drinks or electrolyte supplements will expedite recovery. 

 

In addition to hydration, staying cool while exercising in the heat is essential for health and performance. 

Tips to Stay Cool

Staying cool in the heat when exercising is important. Increased body temperature when exercising can lead to heat illnesses such as exertional heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat syncope. Body temperature can increase for many reasons besides exercise alone. They include:

  • Illness
  • Lack of acclimatization to the heat
  • Dehydration
  • Long-term lack of sleep
  • Poor physical fitness
  • Amount of equipment being worn in heat
  • Certain medications (ADHD medications, Sudafed, Ephedra, recreational drugs)

 

It is not hard to stay cool when exercising if you take the proper steps beforehand such as:

  • Avoid practicing during the hottest part of the day
  • Take time to adapt to hot environments over the course of 10-14 days (acclimatization)
  • Take frequent breaks (every 20 minutes or so)
  • Stay hydrated before, during and after practice
  • Maintain a minimum level of physical fitness even when not practicing
  • Avoid practicing when you are sick
  • Make sure you practice where there is a shaded or cool area nearby
  • Don’t use full heavy gear until you have acclimatized to the heat
  • Have ice towels available to use during rest breaks
  • Have accurate temperature monitors available to prevent exertional heat stroke
  • Monitor body temperature more closely if using medications that increase body temperature
  • Avoid recreational drugs

In a competition scenario, minimize warm-up or warm up in cool or air conditioned environment

**Print as a PDF

 

Checklist for Safely Participating in a Road Race

 

The Korey Stringer Institute has prepared a list of things to focus on while preparing before the race, the morning of the race and during the race, to help prevent a heat illness. The list is not all inclusive, or exhaustive, but will give you a good place to start to perform safely in the race. 

 

 

Before the race

  1. Acclimatize to the warm environment.
    If you are traveling to a race held in a warmer environment than where you have trained, arrive early to the destination in order to acclimatize to the heat (about 7–10 days). If this is not possible, train during parts of the day that most resemble the environment you will encounter on race day.  Remember, training very early in the morning or late in the evenings may not acclimatize your body for race conditions if held mid-day.
  2. Take precautions when exposing your body to new environmental extremes. 
    Stay safe by drinking extra water, taking more rest breaks, and training at a lower intensity the first few days of exercise in a new, hot environment.
  3. Monitor the weather and plan accordingly.
    Keep an eye on the weather forecast for race day. Sudden changes in the temperature could result in temperatures much higher or lower then normally expected.  In addition, monitor the expected humidity. Higher humidity decreases the ability for sweat to evaporate, therefore making it harder to cool your body.
  4. Determine your individual sweat rate to properly hydrate.
    This will dictate how much fluid you need to drink to appropriately replace your sweat lost during the race. Your sweat rate will change based on your fitness status, intensity of activity, and environmental conditions; therefore, measure your sweat rate in conditions similar to your predicted race day.
  5. Determine your sweat rate again after acclimatization.
    Your body sweats more when acclimated as a method for cooling. Determine your sweat rate after you are have acclimatized to the weather conditions of the race to   develop a hydration plan for race day.

Learn how to calculate sweat rate here.

  1. Use thirst to help determine when fluid is needed.
    When you feel thirsty, make sure to drink water since you are in needs of fluids. If you do not have consistent access to fluids, do not depend on thirst alone since fluids may not be readily available.  Consider packs that allow you to carry fluid.
  2. Train appropriately for your fitness level.
    Runners who are less fit are not able to tolerate warm environments as well as fit runners; therefore, be sure to adequately train for the event you plan on racing.
  3. Prepare your body for caffeine consumption.
    If you do not regularly consume caffeine but plan to on race day, consume caffeine during training a couple of weeks prior to the race. This will allow you to know how it affects your body, so you can plan accordingly.
  4. Avoid alcohol the night before the race.

Morning of the race

  1. Eat a good breakfast.
    Do not try any new foods the morning of your race to avoid any potential adverse effects.
  2. Dress for race conditions.
    Wear light, loose fitting fabrics if conditions will be hot and layers you can remove throughout the race if conditions will be cool.
  3. Monitor your urine color.
    This is indicative of your hydration status. Urine should look like lemonade if hydrated.  If the color resembles apple juice, more water should be consumed.
  4. Include important medical information when registering.
    This will allow those working at the race to better treat you in case of an emergency.
  5. Have a hydration plan.
    Know where the water stations are and plan to take water and gels/nutrition according to your plan.

During the race

  1. Listen to your body!
    Pay attention to anything abnormal you may be feeling, including dizziness, confusion,  unusual anger, or irritability. If you feel these types of abnormal feelings, then back off on your intensity.  If it persists, seek assistance.
  2. Stick to your hydration plan.
    Developed by your personal sweat rate, properly follow your hydration plan. Let thirst be a guide to modify if necessary. Be sure not to drink more fluid then what you are losing.
  3. Pay attention to race officials for announcements.
    There may be important changes you should be aware of.
  4. Decrease pace if needed.
    Decrease your pace if the environmental conditions are much warmer or more humid than what you expected or trained in.
  5. Do not increase pace or intensity throughout the race.
    If the race is much warmer or more humid than you expected, do not increase your pace or intensity throughout the event. This will help to protect you from heat illnesses.

After the race

  1. Consume Fluids!                                                                                                                                                                                             Continue to consume fluids to replace fluid lost during exercise.
  2. Consuming sports drinks or electrolyte supplements will expedite recovery.

References

  1. Binkley HM, Beckett J, Casa DJ, Kleiner DM, Plummer PE. National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: exertional heat illnesses. J Athl Train. 2002;37:329–343.

  2. Casa DJ, Armstrong LE, Hillman SK, Montain SJ, Reiff RV, Rich BSE, Robers WO, Stone JA.  National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: fluid replacement for athletes.  J Athl Train. 2000;35(2):212-224.

  3. Casa DJ, Csillan D. Preseason heat-acclimatization guidelines for secondary school athletics. J Athl Train. 2009;44(3):332–333.
  4. Sawka MN, Burke LM, Eichner ER, Maughan RJ, Montain SJ, Stachenfeld NS. American College of Sports Medicine position stand: exercise and fluid replacement. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39:377–390.
  5. Shirreffs SM, Armstrong LE, Cheuvront SN.  Fluid and electrolyte needs for preparation and recovery from training and competition. J Sports Sci. 2004;22:57-63.