I consider defensive shooters and persons charged with the protection of lives, athletes. The only difference is that unlike a runner, who plans to attend a 10k or workout in the gym, they have no idea when they will have to sprint, jump, dive, squat, climb or address a threat. That means as combat athletes, we need to be prepared 100% of the time. This month, we are going to talk about a small portion of that preparation, staying hydrated. Staying hydrated is always important, but in high heat like we have been experiencing, it can be a matter of life and death.
Aside from oxygen, water is the most important nutrient your body needs to properly function. You may be surprised to know that water makes up approximately 60% of the body in males and 50% in females. If you lose just 1% of the water you feel thirst. 2%-5% and you may feel weak, dry mouth, flushed skin, headaches and general impaired physical performance. 6% and your body temperature will begin to increase, as well as you breathing and pulse rate. Once you lose 8%, the real fun begins. You will experience dizziness and the prior symptoms will become more severe. Anything more the 10% and you may begin to experience muscle spasms and delirium. This of course is in addition to the risks of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.
It is important to remember to stay hydrated all of the time, but especially during training. Even when temperatures are cooler, running and gunning will cause you to lose a lot of water and become dehydrated quickly. Hydration backpacks are an easy way to sip water when doing reloads or waiting at the line because your water source is hands free and readily available. You will drink more if you do not have to go anywhere to get water
The good news is that all of this can be avoided by simply drinking water. Many experts recommend drinking your body weight divided by 2, then change pounds to ounces. So it you weigh 200 pounds, you should drink 100 oz of water a throughout the day, more if you are exercising or in a hot or humid environment. I keep a 32 oz. water bottle and just refill it with ice and water all day. If for some reason I forget to grab the bottle, I feel the difference at the end of the day.
Here are some quick tips for staying hydrated.
- Get yourself in the habit of drinking water at meals and when you snack.
- Watermelon and other fruit is full of water and will help you stay hydrated
- Start every day out with a big glass of water to replace the water lost while you slept.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption as they act as diuretic.
- Drink before you become thirsty, after that it is already to late
- Small amounts all day or much better then chugging a bottle of water every once and a while.
- Sports drinks are good for sodium and electrolytes, but should be used in moderation and they can push your kidneys into overdrive.
So stay cool, drink up and as always, stay safe!
Remember, failing to train is training to fail.