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R.A.C.E. Formula for Hydration

By Gatorade Sports Science Institute

gatoradeTo help triathletes stay properly hydrated leading up to and throughout race day, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute recommends utilizing the R.A.C.E. formula for hydration:

  • Replace Fluid Losses. It’s important for athletes to minimize dehydration (weight loss during exercise).  Triathletes should try to prevent a loss of more than 1% to 2% of their body weight (e.g., a 150-lb athlete should not lose more than 1.5 to 3 pounds per race). By weighing yourself before and after training runs under various environmental conditions, you can develop a good sense of your fluid replacement needs on race day and make adjustments based on the weather that day.

  • Avoid Over-Drinking. Over-drinking (weight gain during exercise) can increase the risk of hyponatremia, a rare but dangerous condition that has been associated with excessive fluid intake and to some extent the loss of sodium in the sweat.1 While the sodium in Gatorade can reduce the risk of hyponatremia during the marathon, the risk still exists if too much of any fluid is consumed. Replace fluids based on weight loss, not guessing.

  • Check Your Urine. If it’s light yellow (like lemonade) that’s usually a sign of good hydration. Crystal-clear urine often indicates over-hydration and the need to cut back. Dark urine (like the color of apple juice) may signal dehydration and the need to drink more.

  • Eat a Salty Diet. If you are a heavy sweater or if you finish workouts with your skin and clothes caked with white residue, your diet should contain enough salt to replace those losses. Salting your food to taste is encouraged; during training runs and on race day, favor salty carbohydrate snacks and sports drinks over water to help replace the sodium lost in sweat.

1 Montain, S, SN Cheuvront, and MN Sawka.  Exercise associated hyponatremia: quantitative analysis to understand the aetiology. Br J Sports Med 40:98-106, 2006.

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Photo courtesy of Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.