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Hydration: Get Your Drink on!

by Kristina Miller

A Camel Pack is a must if you expect to stay hydrated on long training sessions or if you race long off-road races.

The sun is shining, the breeze is warm, and it is time for riders to come out and enjoy another motocross season. As the weather improves an important aspect all riders need to remember is hydration. One of the biggest advantages a rider can give him or herself is keeping their body hydrated. By keeping the body hydrated you are able to continually train or compete.

While I am sure every rider knows that they should stay hydrated some may be unsure as to the importance of why? It all begins with sweat. Our body temperature is regulated (maintained at 98.6⁰) by the evaporation of our sweat. As we exercise our muscles generate heat which elevates our core body temperature. In order to maintain our body temperature the body begins to release sweat. As our sweat is dissipated from the skin our body begins to cool off. Unfortunately, when we sweat we not only release heat from the body we also release essential electrolytes. Electrolytes are fundamental nutrients that allow for the muscle to continue working. Some of these electrolytes are sodium, chloride, and potassium; which are found in sports drinks. A sports drink is defined as a beverage that not only hydrates but it all restores electrolytes, carbohydrates, and other nutrients that have been depleted due to activity. When sources have not been replaced you can experience signs and symptoms of dehydration such as fatigue, confusion, noticeable thirst, and/ or muscle cramping. Dehydration is defined as an excessive amount of water loss. If one does not replace their fluids then dehydration can progress to the following:

  • Heat cramps: involuntary spasms or cramping of active muscles; more commonly occurring in lower extremities and abdomen.
  • Heat exhaustion: sudden fatigue that occurs as the body fluids that have been lost through sweating, and is not adequately replaced.
  • Heat stroke: this is a medical emergency! The ability to sweat is shut down and your core temperature continues to elevate.

Heat illness and dehydration are easily preventable by keeping the body hydrated. The following are rehydration strategies:

  • Pre-training/Competition:
    • 2-3 hours before consume 17-20 fluid ounces of water or sports drink
    • 10 to 20 minutes before consume 7-10 fluid ounces of water or sports drink
  • During training/Competition:
    • Every 10-20 minutes you want to consume 7-10 fluid ounces of water or sports drink
    • During this time you want to be aware of your weight before and after training/competition because you do not want to lose more than 2% of your body weight through water loss.
  • Post-training/competition
    • For every pound of weight loss you want to consume 20 fluid ounces of a sports drink.

Just remember by the time you are thirsty you are already dehydrated! Have fun, stay safe, and keep hydrating.

About the Author: Kristina Miller is a senior at West Virginia University (The home of Racer X). She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in both athletic training and sports and exercise psychology. Her future aspirations are to apply both of these degrees to the sport of motocross. She has been interested in motocross for over three years and hopes to use her love of motocross and turn it into a career working behind the scenes in sports medicine. That's all we really know about the girl - Virtual Trainer

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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  1. Gravatar
    Simon Griffiths May 18, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Great article this, I think the importance of hydration is often overlooked. I struggled during a practise day and couldn't work out why i got arm pump so bad, my training and nutrition during the week was fine, could only put it down to hydration, so the next week after drinking 2-2.5ltrs of water a day the week I had another practise at the same track and guess what? Zero arm pump!!!

  2. Gravatar
    gomes615 May 18, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Hi , i think the quantities of fluid that are described in the article are to little to me , because I sweat a lot!!!! Do you think that is bad for me to drink to much water? Because the more I drink , the more I will sweat and that is not good too, I think.

  3. Gravatar
    Sandra May 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Excellent Article on Hydration. It was very informative and easy to read and understand

  4. Gravatar
    Kristina Miller May 20, 2010 at 9:00 am

    To gomes615:

    To answer your question it is not a bad idea to increase the amount of water you drink. Yes, you may sweat more but it would take a drastic amount of water to over hydrate. What I listed in the article are basic guidelines. If you are worried about dehydration due to the amount of sweat loss weigh yourself before and after activity. Take the difference in weight and remember to consume 20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost.

  5. Gravatar
    Paul Hodges May 20, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I will agree to everything except the "sports drink". Filtered or bottled water is the only fluid that should be used during training and racing.

    gomes615, talk to your doctor about excessive sweating. you may have an vitamin, mineral or less likely a metabolic deficiency.

  6. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer May 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Paul it is interesting that you say that. Check out this article by Joe Friel, undoubtedly one of the smartest trainers around.

    I still like sports drinks b/c they usually promote increased consumption b/c of the taste.

  7. Gravatar
    Early99 May 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Water is not the best choice for an endurance athlete. All sports drinks are not created equal though. There's lots of information available about what to drink and how much on the web. Too much fluid can be a problem also.

  8. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer May 24, 2010 at 8:26 am

    You are correct, Early99 that water is not necessarily the best choice for endurance athletes (marathoners, tri-athletes, etc.). BUT, remember that MX athletes are NOT endurance athletes. I'm not putting sports drinks down by any means, I use them myself. But sometimes we buy into the marketing blitz and forget that good old tap water is just as beneficial for hyfration... as Joe Friel points out in his article.

  9. Gravatar
    mountain goat cyclist. July 10, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I'm warm blooded,i sweat alot ,when i train on my mountain bike, i drink 1.5 gallons of water before i leave to train on the bike so i am not panting and dry at the mouth during my ride...

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