Individualisation - the key to optimal hydration?
Having come across 2 interesting articles in the mainstream Running and Triathlon press recently we thought it was a good time to put up a post about just why individualisation is so important when looking at hydration.
First up; a great article by TJ Murphy on Triathlete-Europe entitled 'Does Dehydration Improve Performance?'
In the article TJ highlights the case of legendary triathlete Scott Molina who famously struggled at the Hawaii Ironman as he battled dehydration, hyponatraemia and pacing issues for years that preventing him from winning the event, despite being amongst the favourites to do so.
He also explores the conclusions in Dr Tim Noakes' 2012 book, 'Waterlogged' that suggest most athletes tend to over, rather than under consume fluids during exercise and that this is largely as a result of the marketing hype created by drinks companies keen to drive up sales of their products.
We think that one of the best things about this article is the fact that it does acknowledge that whilst Dr Noakes is likely to be very correct in his assertions that a lot of athletes do over drink (thanks to the efforts of the industry to encourage this habit), Murphy also points out that for an individual like Molina who reportedly had a sweat rate of up to 3 litres per hour(!) working out what you need in your own circumstances is the key to optimising your own performance.
As it turned out in the end Molina did some great homework to understand his own physiology better and came up with an individualised approach to fluid intake and pacing that eventually allowed him to go on and win the Ironman in 1988.
The article closes with a fantastic quote suggesting that "Everyone keeps searching for some perfect answer for matching hydration and performance, but perhaps Mucky Sludge [Scott Molina's nickname] blazed the path for us long ago. We each have to figure this out for ourselves."
The other article is on pg 27 of the latest UK Runners World magazine (August 2013) and highlights the case of Ultra marathon runner Sophie Power who drank herself into a dangerously hyponatraemic state in a multi day race. This was despite that fact that she was taking 'electrolyte' tablets that turned out to actually have a very low sodium content. She was lucky to survive the incident due to the quick thinking of the event medical team but others have tragically lost their lives in similar circumstances.
So what does all this show?
Well, we think that understanding your own hydration needs based on factors including your own sweat rate, sweat sodium concentration, the length, intensity and environmental conditions of your training and races is key to determining what will best work for you. With some intelligent preparation, research and organised trial and error you can find a hydration and electrolyte strategy that will help you to perform at your best and stay healthy.
In essence it's exactly why we are making sweat testing more widely available to athletes and producing the only multi-strength range of electrolyte drinks in the world - H2Pro Hydrate - so people can tailor their replacement strategies more closely to their own needs.