motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

How to Hydrate for Better Performance

Being well hydrated is key to performing your best, whether you’re doing a grueling long-distance ride or the annual Elephant's Perch Backcountry Run. And in the summer heat, it’s more important than ever to pump the fluids.

Water helps regulate your body temperature, lubricates your joints and keeps your muscles working optimally. If you aren’t properly hydrated, your blood volume will drop, forcing your heart to beat faster. Research shows even mild dehydration can cause exercise performance to suffer. 

Not to worry. This quick guide explains what you need to do to stay at peak hydration and crush it during your next endurance event: 

In a study in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, trail runners who were well hydrated when they began a 12K race finished faster and recovered more quickly than when they ran it dehydrated. So drink up! The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends downing 16-20 fluid ounces of water or a sports beverage at least 4 hours before a long workout, followed by 8 -12 fluid ounces of water 10-15 minutes prior.

Sip early and at regular intervals to keep up your hydration.For workouts lasting less than 60 minutes, about 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15-20 minutes should do the trick. For longer workouts, you'll want to cnosume about 3-8 fluid ounces of a sports beverage (5-8 percent carbohydrate with electrolytes) every 15-20 minutes, ACSM advises.

Post-exercise hydration is just as crucial as before and during. Aim to restore fluid levels within two hours after your workout. You’ll need a combination of water, carbohydrates (to replenish glycogen stores) and electrolytes (to speed rehydration). ACSM’s rule of thumb: Drink 20-24 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage for every pound of body weight lost.

Add ice to your drink for an extra performance boost! A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in 2008 found that cyclists who drank cold beverages before and during their workout exercised nearly 12 minutes longer than those who drank warm beverages. In another study, runners who ate an ice slushy ran about 10 minutes longer versus when they had a cold beverage. 

Muscle cramps, headaches, digestive problems, hunger and sugar cravings could be signs that you're dehydrated. Or, keep tabs on the color of your pee. If it’s dark yellow, then grab your water bottle and start guzzling.