By: Josh Staph
Sweating out nutrients during practice and competition is unavoidable, so you have to find a way to replace them. Electrolyte replacement drinks help your body restore levels of potassium, sodium and chloride, all of which are necessary for proper cell function. However, experiencing any of the following symptoms during a workout means dehydration already may have set in:
- heat flush
- muscle cramping
- abnormal cramps
- perspiration stops
The key to avoiding dehydration is prehydration. Pros like Misty and Karch prepare well before first serve by drinking a lot of water, sports drinks and their own personal "brews." Although it is important to drink water and electrolyte replacement drinks while competing, pre-game hydration is essential to achieving maximum performance in the heat. Using thirst as a hydration indicator isn't smart. By the time you are thirsty, dehydration has started.
To determine the number of ounces of water you need, divide your weight in half. For example, a 150-pound athlete needs 75 ounces of water. In addition, you need to replace fluids lost during training.
Misty's and Karch's coach, Mike Rangel, recommends drinking water at a 5:1 ratio to electrolyte replacement drinks.
Hydration is great, but prehydration is key. Here's how Misty and Karch approach it differently.
THE MISTY METHOD
I really pound the water ahead of time. Pre-tournament, I know the city I am going to, and whether it's hot. If it is, I hydrate days in advance. I have Gatorade and a mixture of vitamins to keep me hydrated. In Athens, they gave us a pee chart. It had all these different colors that tell you if you are dehydrated [see below]. So I have it ingrained in my head as to whether or not I am drinking enough water and electrolytes. Also, I try to listen to my body; it tells me a lot. If I am out to dinner and feel like I need more water, steak or sugar, then I drink or eat it. I try to stay away from caffeine. I have a cup of coffee each day if I am on the road, but normally I cut it out during the tournaments because it dehydrates. It brings you up, but then you crash.
THE KARCH CONCEPT
We know we are going to be burning calories and losing a lot of fluids and electrolytes over tournament weekends because of how muggy it is. So, I start drinking some of my brew—Pedialyte, water and other things—a couple nights before competition. Pedialyte is an electrolyte replacement drink for infants. It turns out to be great for athletes as well, because it is so concentrated. A couple of guys who are on the tour tried it a few years back, and it helped them get over tremendous cramping problems, so I tried it and really like it.
CHECK TO SEE IF URINE TROUBLE
Check the color of your urine to determine your hydration level. Dark yellow and potent smelling pee means you are dehydrated. A healthy number one is almost colorless and odorless.
Source: Core Performance, Rodale Publishing
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock