Any article we read, anyone we talk to and everyone seems to repeat the same: drink water while running. Do not let your body dehydrate. Hydration is very important. Without water, our body temperature goes up and our energy goes down. Always bring water when training, especially during long runs. But, hey! Is it really so crucial?
The big running guru, Dr. Jack Daniels, says something slightly different. According to this famous coach who trained the best American runners throughout his long career, there are two important issues in terms of hydration or refueling as he likes to call it.
Refueling during training days.
During long training runs it’s better to avoid refueling in order to help your body rely on its own energy reserve. Your body learns to be better at metabolizing fat and not relying on the carbohydrates all the time. So then your body knows how to function with reduced carbohydrates. This ability can help a lot in a race.
Refueling during a race.
In a race itself, it’s much better to take the extra fuel available at water stations. There’s no doubt that drinking water helps maintain a higher speed, so we can perform better.
Personally, I never take water for trainings although I sometimes regret it especially during intervals or fartlek training. My body got used to the lack of extra fuel and adapted to this situation. I can run a half marathon distance without drinking a drop of water. However, I have no doubt I could perform better if I had a cup of water every few kilometers.
For those of us who never tried running 10km without water, it might be very difficult to manage even 5K without a sip. It needs to be learned. And it’s a long process of adapting to this new situation. Some runners naturally don’t require refueling often as they’ve been born this way while others need to water a lot. No matter what kind of runner you are, it’s worth to try to reduce refueling. You don’t have to be worried. Your body will not let you dehydrate to death. The body’s control panel which is mind will never allow any danger to happen. In the worst case, you’ll just stop and walk to the nearest water bottle.
We also must remember that over hydration is often worse than slight dehydration. Running with a full stomach is not good. We must avoid a situation that water spills in our belly from one side to another with every single step. Inexperienced runners often face this problem thinking that they must drink at every water station. When they come to the finish line they are over hydrated. Our body has been developed to deal with dehydration and except some extreme situations, it’s something absolutely natural.
The game of drinking less water is worth to play. A body that is better at metabolizing fat is a faster body. Refuel less during training long runs and refuel more during a race and your performance will be better.