The experience of competitive athletes and their trainers has revealed the easiest way to improve training and racing performance: maintain sufficient fluid levels in your body. Most people function well enough with a bit of dehydration, but even slight dehydration can be a problem for the active person. And it gets worse, much worse, as the daily temperatures exceed 80°F.
If you've been cycling during the early Spring, your body has been using the generated heat from exercise to keep your extremities and core warm. Typically you'll sweat little in cold weather. As the air temperatures warm, though, your body shifts from warming to cooling. Sweating increases, and the sweat works to cool the body by evaporation. Athletes are able to sweat sooner and more profusely. But sweat depends on a proper balance of hydration, and it works even better with a tip toward overhydration.
Body fluid levels are important for smooth joint movement and efficient muscle contraction-release also. With dehydration, most of your tissues shrink slightly, much like a drying sponge. Fluids aren't available in enough quantity to lubricate the cell-to-cell interaction, and your strength and stamina both suffer.
Go into each workout—or each commute—with a reserve of body fluid levels. Your performance and cooling ability will benefit greatly.
- Drink fluids throughout the day, including with each meal or snack. Also sip about 20 oz. of water in the evening to replenish your levels through the off-time.
- Weigh yourself immediately before a ride of 45 minutes or longer, to help measure the body fluids lost during exercise.
- While cycling, drink 12 to 16 oz. each half hour. Alternate between a bottle of water and a bottle of sports drink to replenish electrolytes.
- Weigh yourself at the end of the ride, to find the difference in weight before and after the ride. Take in 1.5 times that difference in fluid oz. of water. (Each pound lost equals 24 fluid oz. water to replenish.)
Temperature: 35 to 41°F at 06:35, 51 to 55°F at 09:15
Clothing: 3-layer top, 2-layer bottom; ankle socks. Goretex full-finger gloves.
Bike: Trek 850
Time: 0:49:00 (approx.) for 11.86 miles
Bikeway users: 2 cyclists, 4 pedestrians, 1 dog
08:05—departing from home.
08:19—passing the zig-zag down to the Mad River Bikeway.
08:29—passing the west gate to Eastwood Park.
08:42—passing the trestle remains at Linden.
08:54—arriving at work.