The pasty, parched feeling of a dry mouth is distracting when you are running. It's hard to focus on your workout performance when all you want is water to quench your thirst. Not only can it feel uncomfortable, it could become a breeding ground for mouth infections.
If you're not dehydrated, a dry mouth -- known as xerostomia in medical circles -- can be a sign of other problems or a side effect of some medications. Dry mouth during running is reversible and can be dealt with fairly easily. If your symptoms continue even after home treatment, speak to your doctor about underlying medical conditions that may contribute to your dry mouth.
A physical cause of dry mouth during running is dehydration. As you exercise, sweating dries out your entire body. The dryness in your mouth may increase in hot weather when you sweat more.
If you're not drinking liquids as you run, the dehydration can become more severe and can potentially endanger your health. Signs of serious dehydration during running include blurry vision and mental confusion.
Even if you're fully hydrated, if you run your mouth open, you may also experience dry oral tissues.
A case of the nerves can be another cause for dry mouth during running. Runners who participate in races often get anxious before the gun goes off. The highly-charged emotions involved in race preparation cause temporary symptoms of a dry mouth.
Once you are well into your race, your body usually gets into its groove and your mind relaxes. Then, you'll feel the saliva flowing once more.
Solutions Through Hydration
Hydration is an important part of conquering dry mouth and keeping the rest of your body healthy while you run. Drink water before, during and after a workout to prevent dry mouth, as well as muscle cramps and weakness.
Runners who go for an hour or longer should sports drinks to rehydrate. The electrolytes and carbohydrates in sports drinks may possibly improve performance as well.
Drink between 1½ and 4 cups of water or sports drink per hour of running to replace the fluids you have lost.
Sometimes you can't help but breathe out of an open mouth during your run, because it helps you get more oxygen into your system during a hard workout. However, if this exacerbates your dry mouth, work on breathing in and out through your nose.
The technique may take practice, but over time, it'll also help you control your heart rate and mental focus as you run.
Relaxation and visualization can help reduce xerostomia that results from nervousness. Close your eyes, breathe in deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Visualize yourself at the starting line getting ready to run your race. Imagine yourself running at your optimum levels.
If you're a novice runner, you may find you're less nervous with each race and the feelings of a dry mouth dissipate as you become more confident.