After last weekend’s 30K race, this week’s training plan called for a “recovery week.” Yes, just a short, relaxing 19K run on the agenda. I found myself saying ridiculous things like “Oh, I can have some wine with dinner! It’s only 19K tomorrow,” or “Sunday will be easy. It’s only 19K.”
This is insanity. At what point did 19K become such a pathetic little distance that I can convince myself that drinking wine the night before is a perfectly acceptable choice? This is by no means a short run. But, after three weeks of distances over 20K, it did seem like a bit of a break. It’s funny how your perception of a long run changes over time.
I paid a price for my arrogance. I did not hydrate appropriately before this run and I suffered big time. In fact, I think it was as close to real dehydration as I’ve ever come. It’s not like I was delirious or hallucinating, but I did feel perfectly terrible during and after.
Here’s what happened.
I woke up feeling a bit lazy. I was visiting my parents on their boat in Grand Bend and I felt more like sun tanning on the bow of the boat than putting on my running gear and going out on my little 19K run. I ate breakfast, had a few sips of water and headed out to this lovely paved biking and walking trail that runs parallel to the water. It started off well. It was a cool, crisp morning and the path was shaded. But as soon as the sun peaked above the trees, it was sweltering and humid.
At 11K, I felt pretty bad. My head was throbbing and my water was dangerously low. But the only way to get back was to run, so I had to continue.
This is the first run in a long time that I can remember feeling really thirsty. I normally think about food on my long runs, but on this run, I kept fantasizing about chugging water. I knew it was a long way off and I started to feel a little panicked that my water was basically gone. I was suffering. I started conserving what little water was left in my fuel belt and using it as incentive to make it to the next walk break. A tiny mouthful of water became a big reward. I was sweating so much my iPhone stopped working. The last 4K were rather unpleasant.
When I finally reached home, my water was completely gone. I was red and blotchy, breathing heavily and so very thirsty. I drank two water bottles in about a minute and it took me hours to feel normal again. In fact, even today, I’m not sure I’m completely recovered. I still felt a bit off all day despite drinking an ocean’s worth of water.
Recently, a fellow runner was asking how I stay hydrated on long runs. I gave three pieces of advice, none of which I actually follow consistently. It’s time I start practicing what I preach.
- Pick a route with water fountains. There are lots, if you look for them. In Toronto, there are a few along the waterfront and plenty in various parks. Make mental notes where they are and plan your run around that route.
- Pick a route with runner friendly businesses that will fill your water bottles for you. Some Starbucks in the city are very accommodating to sweaty, thirsty runners.
- Buy bigger water bottles. You can buy larger bottles that fit standard fuel belts, or larger handheld bottles at places like The Running Room. Either would be good options.
- Don’t be arrogant. Distance running in the summer is tough. Water is super important. Hydrate appropriately before your run – even if it is only 19K.
Do you have any hydration tips for long runs?