By Dr. Trevor Lewis, Interim Chair of Emergency Medicine at Cook County Health
Staying hydrated in hot weather is important for everyone, but particularly for athletes. With temperatures expected to be in the high 90s this weekend, now might be a good time to move your workout indoors.
However, if you have to be outside this weekend, whether it’s to participate in the Rock ‘n Roll Chicago races or getting in your long training run for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, it’s important to hydrate properly to avoid the risk of serious illness.
A few reminders:
- Hydration for races starts days before your event. Even when we are not working out, the high temperatures lead to fluid losses. Be sure to drink water throughout the day and remember that teas, soda and coffee are not substitutes for water. About one to two hours before, drink 16 ounces of water.
- During an activity, drink four to six ounces (about four to six gulps of water) every 15 to 20 minutes.
- Thirst is not always a good indicator of whether you are properly hydrating; if you are thirsty, it is oftentimes too late to catch up on hydration. Weighing yourself before and after activity will help determine how much water you have lost and how much water you need to replenish.
- Besides checking your weight after an activity, the color of your urine is a good indicator of your hydration status. Your urine should be light-colored to clear; if it is not, you need to drink more.
- Look for signs of dehydration or heat illness. Symptoms include: faintness or dizziness; nausea; heavy sweating; headache; cool, moist pale skin; rapid weak heartbeat; muscle cramps; fever; and excessive tiredness. If you start to experience any of these symptoms, stop the activity, find a cool spot and consider medical attention.
Stay hydrated and safe this week and make sure you listen to your body! A faster time is not worth risking your life.
Dr. Trevor Lewis is Interim Chair of Emergency Medicine at Cook County Health. He has competed in several Chicago Marathons and multiple Chicago Triathlons.