Half-marathon running performance is not improved by a rate of fluid intake above that dictated by thirst sensation in trained distance runners
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It has been demonstrated that exercise-induced dehydration (EID) does not impair, and ad libitum drinking optimizes, cycling time-trial (TT) performance. However, the idea that EID ≥ 2 % bodyweight (BW) impairs endurance performance is well ingrained. No study has tested the impact of EID upon running TT performance. We compared the effects of thirst-driven (TD) vs. programmed fluid intake (PFI) aimed at maintaining EID-associated BW loss <2 % on half-marathon performance.
Ten trained distance runners underwent, in a randomized, crossover fashion, two, 21.1 km running TTs on a treadmill (30 °C, 42 % relative humidity) while facing a wind speed matching running speed and drinking water (1) according to thirst sensation (TD) or (2) to maintain BW loss <2 % of their pre-exercise BW (PFI), as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Despite that PFI significantly reduced EID from 3.1 ± 0.6 (TD) to 1.3 ± 0.7 % BW (PFI), mean rectal temperature from 39.4 ± 0.4 to 39.1 ± 0.3 °C, mean body temperature from 38.1 ± 0.4 to 37.7 ± 0.2 °C and mean heart rate from 175 ± 9 to 171 ± 8 bpm, neither half-marathon time (TD 89.8 ± 7.7; PFI 89.6 ± 7.7 min) nor running pace (TD 4.3 ± 0.4; PFI 4.2 ± 0.4 min/km) differed significantly between trials.
Albeit providing trivial cardiovascular and thermoregulatory advantages, in trained distance runners, PFI (1,380 ± 320 mL/h) offers no performance benefits over TD fluid intake (384 ± 180 mL/h) during a half-marathon raced under warm conditions.
KeywordsThirst Running Endurance performance Fluid balance Dehydration
The authors wish to thank all subjects who participated in this study as well as Émilie Phaneuf for her outstanding technical support throughout the study. This study was made possible through a research grant provided by the Université de Sherbrooke.
Conflict of interest
The authors report no conflict of interest with any organizations.