On Running and Our Kidneys

Is there any connection? Oh yes there are!

That was what I have learned (and a whole lot of facts) when me and friends gathered together for the Amazing Kidneys talk that was put up by race organizer Edward Kho with friend, runner, blogger and most of all doctor Dingdong Biruar (runmd) over breakfast at the Paul Calvin’s Deli last Sunday right after the Century Tuna Superbods race.

from l-r: jolon, raymund, miguel, jaymie, bobby, me, edward,cristy, jay, dingdong, mariel, jun and vener

The talk centered mainly on topics about the kidneys and how we should take care of them. The most important part of the talk though was during the presentation of the FAQs which directly connects kidneys to running. These items are what I would really want to share with you. Here goes:

The Kidneys and Athletic Performance

Dingdong was able to share with us many interesting facts about our kidneys and how we should take care of it

Q: Why do some runners reach the point of urinating blood during intense and prolonged physical activity such as running?

A: This is because of the condition called Haematuria. This is characterized by the presence of reddish tints to the urine which usually happens when a person/runner increases the duration or intensity of his training in an abrupt manner. In most cases, the red cells and haemoglobin are being filtered into the blood via the kidneys, but the bladder may also be letting blood ease into the urine.

Haematuria usually happens to:
– males more than females
– to people whose age is beyond 50 (their risk is higher)
– to those who perform strenuous exercise more than those who do only light exertion
– people after running more than after biking

Possible causes of Haematuria:
– foot-strike haemolysis (breaking down of red blood cells as a result of the impacts of the feet with the ground during sporting activity)
– renal ischaemia (lack of adequate blood flow to the kidneys)
– hypoxic damage, the release of a haemolyzing factor during exercise
– bladder and/or kidney trauma associated with exertion
– the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
– peroxidation of red blood cells
– dehydration

Q: How much should we drink prior to, during, and after maximal prolonged exercise like long distance races?

A: No single formula fits everyone.
– The length of exercise/activity, heat, humidity and the amount of sweat are all major considerations for keeping the body’s proper fluid balance.
– During long bouts of intense exercise, it’s best to use a sports drink that contains sodium because it reduces chances of hyponatremia.
– It’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink.
– For maximum efficiency and well-being, drink about one-quarter liter of water every 10 to 15 minutes during periods of intense exercise
– Cool water gets absorbed faster than warm water
– In some conditions you will lose water faster than you can replace it. Hence, rest breaks, during which fluid is consumed, become important.

* Tests indicate that a drink of six to eight percent sugar–specifically glucose, maltodextrin, or sucrose–gets absorbed as fast as plain water during periods of hard exercise with the added benefit of supplying energy for improved physical performance.

Q: Is it advisable to use salt tablets during long, intense workouts or runs/races?

A: NO.
-It increases the chances of disrupting the optimum electrolyte balance in the body.
Premise: Salt helps you retain water during exercise and, for another, salt stimulates the need to drink.
Fact: A balanced diet meets even the most active person’s requirements for electrolytes.
-Actually, most sports drinks are low in salt.

Q: Is it alright to consume alcohol and/or fatty foods immediately after an intense and prolonged physical activity?

A: NO.
– Fats decrease the body’s rate of absorption of nutrients.
-Alcohol is a toxin that draws water out of your cells to “water down” increasing blood toxicity.”
* You must drink eight ounces of plain water just to balance one ounce of alcohol.  
– Studies show: small amounts of alcohol increase muscular endurance and strength output, but, these benefits are very short lived.

* Reduction of strength, endurance, recovery capabilities, aerobic capacity, ability to metabolize fat and muscle growth
– prompts more muscle soreness after exercise making recuperation periods longer
– increases heat loss which causes muscles to get cold thus becoming slower and weaker during contractions which leads to reduction of endurance capacities
– increases metabolism of glycogen, thereby  sparing fat making fat loss more difficult.


March 7, 2010 UP Diliman Campus

The talk was held in connection with the celebration of the World Kidney Day 2010 and is to be concluded with a foot race entitled, “The Amazing Kidney Race”. The said race will be held on March 7, 2010 at the UP Diliman Campus.

To learn more about the race, you can check my previous post about it by clicking HERE and view the updates HERE.