Hydration for the Triathlete
By Bob Seebohar
is one of the most important nutrients in any
well-balanced eating plan. Drinking too little water or
losing too much through sweating can inhibit your ability
to exercise to your potential.
only does water keep our bodies hydrated, it also acts in
the blood as a transport mechanism, eliminates metabolic
waste products in urine, dissipates heat through sweat,
helps to digest food and lubricates joints and cushions
organs. So you see, water is a much needed and essential
nutrient which is crucial to our survival and athletic
have heard the saying, “ drink 6-8 glasses of water per
day.” Well this is true, but for sedentary persons. As
triathletes, we need from 12-16 glasses of water per day.
Most of the time it is very easy to consume this much
(during training) but often times you may feel as if that
is an impossible number. No need to worry. Remember, foods
also have water in the m (fruits and vegetables
especially) and so do different drink products. Be careful
though, caffeinated beverages have dehydrating effect so
for you heavy coffee and soda drinkers, beware. A good
rule of thumb is to consume twice as much water as you did
in the caffeineated beverage to make up fo the fluid loss.
Pure, refreshing water (12-16 glasses per day) is always
the best choice since we, as athletes, are in training
most times of the year.
as defined by a conscious awareness of the desire for
water and other fluids, usually controls water intake. The
sensation of thirst is triggered by abnormally highly
concentrated body fluids. When you sweat, you lose
significant amounts of water from your blood. The
remaining blood becomes more concentrated and had, for
example, an abnormally high sodium level. This triggers
the thirst mechanism and increases your desire to drink.
To quench your thirst, you must replace the water losses
and brink the blood back to its normal concentration.
said this, you should not trust your thirst mechansism. By
this I mean, when you feel thirsty, you are probably
already partially dehydrated and it takes much longer to
rehydrate yourself than it does to maintain your hydrated
state. Thirst can be blunted by exercise or overriddn by
the mind. You will voluntarily only replace 2/3 of your
sweat losses. Carry a water bottle with you during the day
to ensure you are drinking adequate amounts. Be careful to
carrying to big of a water bottle though. Some people can
do it but most people who carry larger than a bike size
water bottle do not drink it all because it sits and gets
warm. This will just deter from your hydrated state. Take
frequent breaks to fill up your water bottle and use the
restroom. If you are following the above guidelines, you
should be visiting the restroom quite frequently
throughout the day!
last way to determine if you are staing hydrated is by the
amount and color of your urine. As I said previously, you
should be visiting the restroom frequently throughout the
day. But what is more important, is that you are excreting
a fair amount of clear or pale yellow urine.
bottom line is to drink enough to quench your thirst, plus
a little more.
Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Handbook, 1997
Sporst Nutrition, 1999, American Dietetic Association
Seebohar, MS, RD, CSCS is the Performance Director at the
Colorado Center for Altitude Training and Performance (ATP
Center) in Evergreen, Colorado.
The ATP Center provides training, coaching,
physiological testing and nutrition services for all ages,
types and abilities of endurance athletes.
Bob Seebohar, MS,
RD, CSSD, CSCS has been a USA Triathlon certified coach
since 1999 and is one of the first USA Triathlon Certified
Level III Elite Coaches in the United States. He has
worked with beginners to Olympians and currently
specializes in working with advanced to elite athletes.
Bob was on the Performance Coaching team for Susan
Williams, 2004 Olympic Triathlon Bronze medalist, as he
served as her strength coach and sport dietitian during
her journey to becoming the first United States athlete to
medal in Olympic Triathlon.
He blends his extensive education with his experience as
an athlete, exercise physiologist, sports dietitian and
Bob has a Bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sports Science
with a concentration in Wellness Program Management, a
Master's degree in Health and Exercise Science and a
second Master's degree in Food Science and Human
Bob is also the author of the book
Periodization for the Endurance Athlete
Bob can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org