Running and dehydration pretty much go hand-in-hand during the summer months. As someone who has taken up running relatively recently and is facing her first summer with the sport, this is very new to me, though not unexpected. That said, as I’ve been researching, I’ve also discovered that the combination, while brutal, isn’t exactly what many of us assume it is, particularly when it comes to difficulty level.
Paying Attention to Running and Dehydration
Throughout my research into running and dehydration, I’ve discovered that essentially it all comes down to your blood. The hotter weather in the summertime has made me far more aware of this issue and conscious of keeping on top of it so I don’t end up hurting myself.
One interesting thing I came across was the fact that the impact of dehydration on running performance hasn’t really been studied too much. It’s been blamed for making the activity more challenging when it’s hot out, but there hasn’t been a lot of research that has actually shown that this was the cause of the challenge.
Recently, a study was published in the Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness to help change that trend. What’s truly fascinating about what the scientists found was that it doesn’t look like it’s the dehydration that makes running in the summertime more difficult. Yes, it’s important to remain hydrated, and yes, it’s often more challenging to run when it’s hot out, but those two things might not be linked. Other factors are more likely to be at play.
What to Know About Hydration
Throughout exercise, the supply of blood in your body is needed for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your heart and to the muscles you’re using. When you get hot due to your workout, the weather (or both), your blood supply then adds a third function (not just serving your heart and active muscles). It starts to be used to help cool the skin.
Of course, as this is happening, you start to sweat. Sweat is produced from the plasma (liquid part of your blood). As a result, the more you sweat, the more your blood supply is reduced because its fluid is being transformed into sweat and lost.
This helps to show how very important it is to replace lost fluids. You’re actually losing your blood volume! So, when it’s hot out, dehydration and running should certainly be taken seriously.
Interestingly, it’s not precisely the dehydration and running combination that makes it so much harder to get your best performance. It’s the stress that comes after it all. So, your blood has to provide for your heart, muscles and skin, and its volume is dropping. That alone isn’t enough to be a game changer. What is, is when this continues long enough that the stress starts to really kick in. That’s what starts to make things more challenging.