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Hydration Tips for Cyclists,Runners and Triathletes

Updated on February 7, 2013
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. A keen cyclist, runner, and obstacle racer, he ran his first ultra-marathon in 2016.

Someone has drunk alot of water

Maybe too much if this was all drunk together! Keep a water bottle in easy reach to aid hydration
Maybe too much if this was all drunk together! Keep a water bottle in easy reach to aid hydration | Source

What is dehydration and why do athletes need to hydrate?

As athletes we all know we need to keep hydrated. Water is the most important nutrient and without fluid consumption our bodies will no longer be able to swim, cycle or run effectively.

Athletes lose water through sweat, urine and respiration. It may seem strange but as you breathe out you push water vapour out of you body. Only a small amount however it all counts when you consider your hydration needs for exercise.

Dehydration can ref to both to dehydration induced prior to exercise (hypohydration) and to dehydration that develops during exercise (exercise-induced dehydration).

Studies have shown that even a small (less than 2%) to modest level of dehydration can have a detrimental effect on performance[1]. Therefore this article will concentrate on how to avoid dehydration with some simple yet effective tips to integrate into your life to maintain your Cycling, Running, Swimming and subsequently Triathlon performance.

The meaning of the word dehydration- it's origin

Dehydration stems from the Greek term hydor- meaning water and from the Latin prefix de- which indicates deprivation or removal.

Dehydration means water deprivation

Bottles, bottles everywhere. Race hydration running style

Hydration is key during long distance running events
Hydration is key during long distance running events | Source

Hydration Tip 1; Drink before, during and after your run/ swim/ cycle ride

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends drinking 400-600 ml of fluid two to three hours prior to exercise[2] and between 150-350 ml every 15-20 minutes during exercise. Obviously in hot and humid conditions you are likely to lose more fluid through sweating as part of the body's thermoregulatory response.

Consider your hydration needs prior to your run or cycle ride and make regular drinking a part of your workout regime. Always carry a water bottle or platypus when on the bike for training. Consider a runners water bottle or belt style hydration system while out running.

Swimmers know they're working hard however it's not possible to see and feel the sweat loss in the same way as cyclists and runners. Therefore it is vitally important for a swimmer to have a water-bottle on poolside and to regularly schedule drinking into their workouts.

Hydration tip 2: Keep a bottle of water at your desk

Keep a source of hydration close by no matter where you are. Whether its a waterbottle on your work desk. A flask in the boot of your car or drinks bottle in your school bag.

Hydration Tip 3; Have a water break instead of a coffee break

Whilst many of us love a coffee it can have a diuretic effect and therefore flushes water from our system. Sadly this means that in some cases it's not the ideal drink for an athlete.

Consider your hydration needs and limit you number of coffee's per day- your body will thank you for it.

Hydration Tip Number 4- For those who don't like tap water

If you simply don't like tap water their are other options to aid your hydration. Try bottled water which often has a purer taste or you could try the flavoured waters that are available in many supermarkets.

Alternately slide a slice of lemon or lime (or both) into your glass of water for a fruity twist.

Exercise seems to do weird things to your taste buds so experiment with what you use in training. Try some lemon juice in one your cycling water bottles to see what it's like on your taste buds after a long ride in the saddle.

Sports bottles to help you stay hydrated

Tip 5: Find a coffee alternative

When someone's making a round of hot drinks it often doesn't make sense to say- 'Can I have a glass of water instead?' when people are making a round of coffee's you can consider other options such as;


1. Barr. S, Effects of dehydration on exercise performance. Can J Appl Physiol. 1999 Apr;24(2):164-72.

2. ACSM/ADA/DC (2000) 'Position of the American Diuretic Association. Dieticians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medecine: nutrition and athletic performance' Med Sci Sports Exerc, 32 (12) 2130-45


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