Running a marathon isn’t easy. It takes months of preparation and training, and proper hydration during a marathon to retain stamina and endurance. Many athletes acquire the problem of dehydration, however others suffer with over-dehydration. Too much water can cause a condition called hyponatremia that means low level of sodium in the blood. In recent years, U.S. marathons have experienced participant deaths due to excessive intake of water. That’s why it’s crucial for athletes to strike the proper balance when it comes to hydration. A recent study revealed that marathon runners who lost the most body weight performed very well during the competition. The weight loss reflects a lower level of fluid intake or a faster rate of fluid loss.
About the Study
South African researcher, Noakes and colleagues studied 643 competitors, 560 male and 83 female, who participated in the 2009 Mont Saint Michel Marathon race in France- a distance of 42 kilometres (26.0975 miles). Their aim to analyze the impact of weight loss, which is corresponding to low fluid intake, on their finishing times.
The study participants were weighed in at the start of the race and then at the finish. All participants were given the same pre-race advice to drink 250 milliliters (8.5 ounces) of either water or a 4%-8% carbohydrate-containing drink every 20 minutes during the race. The degree of weight loss ranged from 8% to a gain of 5%.
During the race, temperatures ranged from 9 to 16 degrees Celsius (48.2 to...
60.8 Fahrenheit). The authors termed the weather conditions as “not particularly arduous”.
The results revealed that marathoners who lost the most weight ran the fastest.
- Those who lost 3.1% body weight finished the race under three hours
- Those who lost 2.5%, finished between three and four hours
- Those who lost 1.8%, took more than four hours to finish
The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Noakes blames the sports drink industry in the U.S. for persuading runners to overdrink during a race. “The sports drink industry in the U.S. unfortunately promotes the false idea that drinking to thirst is not adequate. That is why athletes in the U.S. are more likely to overdrink than athletes in any other country.”
Generally most runners are cautioned to ”hydrate” for better performance, I hope the new study might be helpful for athletes to understand that sometimes too much of a good thing can ruin the performance, so keep a balance of intake of fluids.