If you are thirsty, you are probably dehydrated.
Thirst is your body’s natural mechanism for warning you that you need to fill up on some water. It’s kind of like the temperature gauge on your car. Once that gauge starts to push into the red zone you know that you need to put the car in park and let it cool off before you cause some serious damage to the engine.
Thirst is your body’s red zone. If you let it go for too long you can end up overheating and frying your insides. Ok, maybe not frying your insides, but you get the point. It’s bad for you. During the summer months it’s especially important to stay in tune with the body’s warning signals. As a runner, your body can dehydrate quickly as it tries to keep you cool by dropping some serious sweat…or “glisten” for you ladies. You can lose as much as 2 liters of water in an hour or about 4lbs when you are pushing it in the sun.
The Elixir of Life
Our body contains about 60% water. The other 40% is made up of other scientific stuff that I’m not qualified to tell you about. 60% is a lot and it’s important. It is essential for your muscles to function properly. It does stuff like transport nutrients and electrolytes to the various parts of your body. Electrolytes are critical for your muscles to contract and you need those muscles to run! It keeps your body in balance….like keeping you “regular”…and regulating your temperature. Water truly is the elixir of life. Without it, we would be dried up vegetables.
You Might be Dehydrated
So, how do you know if you are getting enough water? Simple, pay attention to your body. It’s amazing how the body is for you. It wants to keep you healthy and in check. We just choose to ignore it. We already talked about thirst. But here are a couple others [in best Jeff Foxworthy voice]
- If your pee looks like mustard, you might be dehydrated.
- If you want to take a nap after breakfast, you might be dehydrated.
- If you can’t remember the last time you had a drink of water, you might be dehydrated.
- If your calf muscle feels like fat Uncle Albert is standing on it and won’t get off, you might be dehydrated.
Watch for dark urine, tiredness, mental fatigue and muscle cramps. If you get too hot and pass out, you ARE dehydrated.
Drink Your Weight in Water
Now conventional wisdom says average you should drink 8 – 8 oz glasses of water every day. That’s a good measure for the average of all people in the world. It’s better to be specific for you. You need to drink between .5 – 1 oz of water per pound you weigh. So, if you weigh 100 lbs that’s 50 to 100 oz of water or 6 – 12 glasses. If you want to get mathematical and scientific about it, you can measure your weight before and after activity to see how much you lost and then shoot to replace that. For example, I lost 4lbs or roughly 2 liters of water running Wednesday morning so I had to drink roughly 8 glasses of water just replenish what I had lost. I didn’t guzzle that right away, but I did up my intake for the day.
Have a plan to stay hydrated
Here are a few tips on how to stay hydrated throughout the day so you can avoid Uncle Albert. It’s best to have a plan.
- Set a reminder on your phone.
- Drink a glass of water before and after each meal.
- Make a commitment to get a glass of water every hour on the hour.
- Place a large container full of water on your desk or a place you frequent as a visual reminder to empty it.
Avoid the Jiggle Belly
If you are running under 8 miles, you don’t need to bring water along with you. It’s best to make sure you are sufficiently getting hydrated at least two days before any run. Drinking an extra glass before you head out is also helpful, but draining 64 oz water right before you run is not going to do you any good.. It takes awhile for that water to filter through your organs. Plus the whole “water jiggling in the belly” thing could get annoying.
The Stash and Grab Technique
If you are running more than 8 miles, you need to replenish water along the way. Strategically pre-place water bottles along your route so you can stop and hydrate. A good rule of thumb is every two miles starting at mile 8. Alternately, carry a camelback water pack or a handheld water bottle. You can also have a little fun and find all the public water fountains along your route. Here’s the deal, as a runner, you should be constantly drinking a lot of water and trying to make a conscious effort to stay hydrated. For the first few weeks you’ll have to pee all the time, but after that your body will love you for it. Stay hydrated my friends. Run early, run often and stay in the shade if you can!