With news of 100+ degree heat and major power outages along the east coast, it is a good time to take another look at the importance of hydration. Even people staying indoors in that type of heat can become dehydrated, which can lead to a myriad of problems, from disorientation to, in extreme cases, death. Here are some things that you can do to make sure you stay hydrated and healthy, especially if you go out for long rides on your bike.
This is the most obvious, yet many people fail to drink enough water. On average days, you should drink at least 64 ounces worth of water (or 8 glasses of 8 ounces each). On really hot days, particularly when exercising outdoors, you should double or even triple that amount. Drink water only; no sugary sodas or caffeinated beverages as they can actually hasten the dehydrating process in the body.
It is important that you go slower on hot days and not push beyond your limits. Understand that there are dangers involved and that you will not have the same amount of energy that you would normally have. If you push too hard, particularly on long rides, you may suffer injury due to an accident that you would normally never have.
Take Short Breaks
Take short breaks all along your route. Even 30-second to 1-minute rests can help your body recover and make for a safer overall ride. A good idea is to ride in short bursts so that you push hard for short periods of time and slow down or stop completely all along your route. This may make your ride take longer but will pay dividends on your conditioning in the long term.
Watch What You Eat
It is always important to watch what you eat, but it is especially so on hot days. Eat a protein source about 30 minutes prior to the start of your ride. Stay away from fruits, especially sugary fruits such as apples and bananas, before the start of your ride. Bananas are great for recovery after your ride but can really sap your energy if eaten before your ride.
Use The Buddy System
This is the most important tip of all. Dehydration comes on quickly and unexpectedly. Once it hits you, you are in trouble. Ride with a friend and watch each other for symptoms of dehydration, including disorientation and a lack of perspiration. Encourage each other to rest and drink water throughout your rides.
Dehydration is a very serious danger for endurance athletes. It can lead to disorientation, which can cause riders to suffer serious accidents and it can also lead to heat stroke, which has caused the deaths of many people, including professional athletes. To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of water, ride slower than normal taking plenty of short breaks along the way, limit the intake of sugary fruits and ride with a friend. Enjoy your ride but stay safe!