Home > Feature

New study on the benefits of pre-hydrating with sodium

New research backs pre-hydrating with more than just water before a race

Triathlon Magazine Canada Fuel station 2013 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii

A small study published in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise shows that 10K runners who pre-hydrate with sodium in warm, humid weather won’t run any faster, but they will stay better hydrated throughout the race than they would by pre-hydrating with plain water. This could benefit performance indirectly since dehydration can lead to overheating, which can be dangerous. With the rising summer temperatures in recent years and the nature of competing in a triathlon in the heat, dehydration is a battle every triathlete faces.

RELATED: Ten training in the heat hacks

Triathlon Magazine Canada Fuel station 2013 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii

There was no significant difference in race times between the two days. But there were substantial differences in how much they needed to drink during the race, and in their rates of dehydration after the race. Those who pre-hydrated with sodium drank less than half as much water during the race as those who pre-hydrated with water only. They were also more than one-third less dehydrated after the run, and had lower sweat rates.
Pre-hydrating is even more important before a long course triathlon. Canadian triathlete, Antoine Desroches will make sure he’s taking in lots of fluids with electrolytes before a 70.3 or full Ironman. “The week out from an Ironman like Mont-Tremblant, I’ll be hydrating lots. Not just with water but an electrolyte mix. I’ll also eat a lot of bananas, which are high in potassium, important for muscle function,” says Desroches. Hydrating with just water days before a triathlon will flush out essential nutrients from your muscles. Therefore, make sure to take a balanced approach to your hydration in the days and hours leading up to a race.