I’ve had more trouble these last few weeks with the hot, humid weather than I can remember ever having before. My last few long runs have ended in disaster due to summer hydration issues. I drink 60+ ounces of water and have stayed on track with my plan each day which makes it very frustrating when these long runs turn ugly and my preparation doesn’t seem to have mattered. I’m trying to determine what’s making this year so different and am leaning towards one specific thing: breakfast. What does breakfast have to do with my summer hydration woes?
I eat chia seed with my breakfast. Chia is a wonderful food full of fiber, antioxidants and omega-3s. It makes you feel full and can help keep you hydrated by absorbing three times its weight in water. I eat breakfast variably but the meal itself is 95% identical to the previous day: cereal, 2% milk, chia seed and a quick downing of 10-15 ounces of water. Sometimes I’m starving when I wake up, sometimes it’s not until 10, sometimes it’s not at all. While including at least one fasted workout in each week’s schedule has helped my body learn to use fat as an energy source, I always eat before my long run.
During the fall, winter and spring I’m pretty flexible with when I’ll go out for my long run and when I eat my breakfast doesn’t much matter. Morning, mid-morning or afternoon, I just go with the weather and what fits my schedule. In cooler weather my sweat rate is pretty low and by the time I get out there, I’ve usually had plenty of time to suck down enough water to load that day’s chia seeds up. No hydration issues. Summer is different. Those long runs have to get done early. This means I eat my chia and drink my water only 10-15 minutes before heading out instead of hours and when I step outside, those chia seeds are probably still thirsty.
With my sweat rate skyrocketing on these hot days, I’m not only loosing what water I have in my body to the atmosphere but the chia is fighting my muscles for it, too. The first step in fixing my summer hydration issues is to move my chia to the post-run afternoon. Hopefully this will leave more water for my muscles and make this weekend’s long run better than the last. If it does make a difference, I’ll stick with it.
What’s your summer hydration plan for long runs? Do you change your diet with the seasons?