Hydrating While Competing

It is the warmest part of the year, much too warm in certain parts of the country, so what is the best strategy regarding being properly hydrated during a competition?

Eight Glasses of Water Per Day
Let us start by dismissing this rather silly bit of “common wisdom.” (It has been so thoroughly debunked that it was admitted by Oprah Winfrey.)

This bit of synthetic wisdom was made up out of whole cloth by a conference participant and there has been no evidence to back it up, even though it spread like wildfire. The first inkling I got that this was bogus is that there is no range based upon body size or age. So, an 85-pound youth is supposed to quaff down 64 ounces of water, as do I, a near 300-pound adult? And next I thought, but we evolved on the African savannah; how the heck are we supposed to drink that much water when we might encounter a water hole once a day or even less frequently?

Getting Thirsty
We have this bodily function called thirst. Is it not dependable? (Yes and no, as usual.)

For most purposes we can trust our thirst to keep us from being dehydrated. If you feel thirsty, drink something. Simple, but. . . .

Imagine when you’re thirsty and you drink a glass of water. The water takes 75 minutes to completely reach your bloodstream, but you feel less thirsty within seconds. What relieves your thirst so fast? Your brain. It’s learned from past experience that water is a deposit to your body that hydrates you, so your brain dismisses your thirst before the water has entered your bloodstream. And, your brain prompts you with thirst well before there are any possible affects to allow for the lack of readily available potable water.

But. . . .

If you are really focused in on something, like being in competition, competing for a highly prized championship, you can shunt those feelings aside as being irrelevant. Thus you can become near dehydrated with no clear signal that you or your performance is in danger. You brain controls your thirst, and you are heavily engaged in controlling your brain, focused intently upon your task.

Dehydration Signs
If you feel the urge to urinate but cannot produce any urine, you are likely in the throes of dehydration. You can also feel weak, dizzy, and dozens of other symptoms (dry mouth, confusion, etc.). Clearly these are not helpful to an archery performance so, how are we to avoid dehydration?

My Hydration Strategy
I dress appropriately to the weather. Since I am very fair skinned I also have to restrict my sun exposure as well and something helpful for both is a wide brimmed hat (soft brim so as to not interfere with my bow). Clothing that allow breezes to evaporate sweat are cooling and so are also helpful.

I drink a mixture of 50% water and 50% sports drink, like Gatorade. The sports drink has a bit of sugar (too much actually) and minerals to replace those lost in sweat. According to my fitness trained son, the dilution of the drink allows for faster absorption. I sip this mixture all day long. Basically I have a routine of sipping this between ends, with lunch, etc. In this way, I eliminate any possibility of dehydration and I don’t have to think about it.

Conclusion
Competing out in the hot sun can result in dehydration because intense concentration on the task of shooting can shunt thirst signals into the background. To eliminate any chance of dehydration, I sip on a diluted sports beverage (your choice, just avoid energy drinks that are loaded with large amounts of caffeine) according to a simple schedule.

Dehydration is a dangerous syndrome, not to be ignored. We learn this lesson over and over every fall when a high school football player, driven by a need to success and overzealous coaches, collapses and dies. Or maybe we don’t learn the lesson as this seems to happen at least once every fall in the hotter areas of the country, which are even hotter now than before.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Hydrating While Competing

  1. When I recently lived and competed in archery in Florida, I used to also drink 1/2 water and Gatorade or Powerade from 18 oz. sports bottle(s) that I kept chilled during very hot humid weather. I would do same minus the chilling for when it was cool or even cold (some days were in the 30s in the morning in Winter). I think your advice is solid!

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  2. David Beeton

    Good advice. I have tried several types of commercial sports drinks, but come back to plain water adding a small amount of lemon juice, a half teaspoon of castor sugar or glucose powder and a very small pinch of salt in a half litre bottle. Shake well and chill! The water hydrates you better than anything else, the glucose speaks for itself, the salt acts to improve the electrolytic function and the lemon because I like it! Other flavours can be substituted as desired. Sipped between ends, I find it keeps me sharp for the duration.

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  3. I have been thinking I might just go on vacation for all of July 2022 (the hottest time of year where I am) and not teach anyone during that time period. I had one student in early July who got heat exhaustion so bad I had to call an ambulance. First time that has happened. I have had other students in previous years who would show up already suffering from heat exhaustion or dehydration and we had to reschedule the lesson because they were in no fit state to be shooting.

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    • This is especially important in areas in which dealing with extreme heat has not been the norm. People aren’t used to it. People don’t have the infrastructure for it. (I visited Palm Springs one time in summer, the so-called “off-season.” Well, not anymore. All of the sidewalk cafes and shops had installed “misters” (previously I had only seen these used in gardens and grocery stores) and they knocked the temp down close to 15 degrees (F, not C). There were people all over the place. My previous visit at that time of year showed no one walking around, and I mean no one.)

      On Mon, Aug 16, 2021 at 9:17 AM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:

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