Training Tips: How to Stay Hydrated on a Sportive

Don’t let the cramp bite on the Yorkshire climbs with our top hydration tips for Struggle sprotives.

Cyclists drinking Harrogate Spring Water on Struggle Dales Sportive in Yorkshire

1. Meet Magnesium 

Struggle’s Matt has recently been battling cramps during the latter stages of a long road races. After consulting with health food experts, Matt tried magnesium tablets once a day. 

Magnesium is not only an important electrolyte which gets lost through sweat, it also relaxes the muscles to help stop that nasty tightness that bites the legs. Magnesium can also be absorbed into the muscles through a spray. Consult your local pharmacy or health food shop for more advice. 

2. Load Up Electrolytes 

It’s important to reach the start line fully hydrated by carrying a bottle of water with you the day before the sportive and regularly sipping. However, just sipping water could have a negative effect by flushing out the body of it’s electrolytes. Ensure you drop an electrolyte tab into you bottle the day before a sportive. to pre-load your electrolytes. 

Triathlon Coach and Hydration Expert Andy Brodziak says: “Rather incredibly, the amount of sweat /sodium lost can vary up to 15 times between seemingly similar individuals.” It’s important to replace the electrolytes sodium, magnesium, chloride and potassium lost through sweat during exercises. These can be found in a hydration drink which will be available at feed 2 and 3 on a sportive, alongside an energy drink and water. 

3. Don’t Skip a Feed

Feeling fuelled up with plenty of food in their pockets, many riders on Struggle Dales skipped a feed! These riders suffered stinging cramps in the second half of the route. 

Even if you’re not hungry, ensure you stop at each feed station to fill you bottles. As a rule of thumb, aim to drink both your bottles before you reach each feed. Use the excuse to drink as a way to top up your carbohydrate levels by filling up with an energy drink at the feeds. 

4. Stay ahead of Thirst

There’s no magic number of litres you should consume per hour as everyone’s body weight and sweat rate is different. OTE Sports Nutritionist Annie Simpson says “ Differences in individual sweat rates can range from 0.4L to 1.8L per hour.”

If you’re a ‘sweater’ or find yourself feeling regularly thirsty, use the feed stations as an opportunity to sip an extra bottle’s worth of water before setting off. “It is always good practise to stay just ahead of that feeling of thirst,” says Annie. 

5. Pack Accordingly 

Clothing choice is paramount to performance on a sportive to help regulate body temperature. There’s some great breathable fabrics out there so pick your jersey wisely. If the weather is hot it’s unlikely you’ll need arm warmers, a rain cape and or a base layer. With just a lightweight gilet in your pocket for the descents, you’ll have plenty of room to carry an extra bottle in your middle pocket if necessary. Be sure to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. 

6.  Get Scientific 

If cramp and dehydration really is putting a halt to your performance, why not get a bit more scientific about your hydration strategy. There’s a few ways you can do this:

A. Nutrition Expert Annie has a handy calculation to help you discover your optimal water consumption during exercise. Find Hydration Tips here or contact Annie Simpson for advice on their PH Neutral Hydration products via Don't forget to use the discount code in your rider manual. 

B. Nail down your sodium intake by taking a Sweat Test and discover a bespoke hydration strategy. 

7. Hydrate Post-Struggle

Hydration is as important post-exercise as during your ride. It assist the digestion of protein as part of your recovery strategy. Every rider on Struggle Moors will receive a bottle on Harrogate Spring Water as they cross the line. Be sure to sip this while biting into your Harvey's Sausage or Burger to start your recovery right away.

Sign up now for a Struggle sportive; the hardest sportives in the UK.

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