The Importance of Hydration for Triathletes

Everyone needs to keep hydrated as much as they can and for triathletes, competing in three different and challenging disciplines, it’s even more important.  But why is hydration so important and what can we do to ensure we are hydrating correctly?

The team at Sharks Swim Shop in Swansea provide advice and guidance on all types of nutrition and diet to many customers who visit the shop including swimmers, runners, cyclists and tri-athletes.  Leah Morgan MD of Sharks Swim Shop explains why hydration is important for all of us and not just elite athletes.

Hydration and Physical Activity

Essentially, your body is made up of almost two-thirds water and the fluid helps with transporting nutrients around the body, controlling your temperature, getting rid of waste products from cells and aiding the function of your digestive system. It even helps to keep your skin healthy.

For anyone who participates in any type of physical activity, and athletes in particular, you need to make sure that you are properly hydrated at all times, as well as ensuring that you are receiving all the vitamins and nutrients you need to feed your muscles and other cells.

Even in everyday life, if you become dehydrated by not drinking enough fluid, you are likely to start to suffer from headaches, dry lips, mood swings, confusion and tiredness or weakness. These effects can be even more pronounced if you don’t keep properly hydrated while you are ill or when you are exercising.

How to keep Hydrated

HydrationLots of foods contain water; but, it is recommended that you drink about 1.5 litres a day on top of the fluid that you consume through food, which amounts to about 8 glasses. Water is the usually the best choice to reach your daily fluid consumption as it is freely available and does not contain any calories or added sugar. If you are bored of water, you can drink milk or fruit juice which has lots of beneficial vitamins, however they do contain extra calories that you need be aware of. Even tea and coffee contribute to you water intake, but try not to consume too much caffeine.

Physical activity and exercise will cause you to sweat, so it is important to drink enough water and top up the extra fluid you may have lost throughout the day. It is a good idea to drink a glass of water before and after exercise as well as taking sips through a workout. Try and carry a bottle of water with you all the time so it’s always available, keep a bottle of water next to you if you are sitting at a desk all day and try to drink a glass of water with every meal;  this will keep hydrated, but will also make you feel full, causing you to eat less.

The importance of Balanced Hydration for Triathletes

Most athletes, including triathletes, understand that being well hydrated is important if you want to perform at your best, especially during longer races and in hot weather.  If you are dehydrated, then your performance will deteriorate too; but over-hydration can also lead to poor performance. If you take in too much fluid during a short period of time it can lead to hyponatremia, resulting in headaches, cramps and sickness.

The aim of a triathlete’s hydration strategy is to achieve a balance of fluids and electrolytes before getting to the start line. You need to take in just the right amount of fluid and electrolytes during the race to minimise the negative effects of dehydration without over-doing it and running the risk of hyponatremia.

For more advice on nutrition book an appointment with the team at Sharks Swim Shop in Sketty or visit our website


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