August 7, 2014

We're talking fluids - How much is enough or too much?

Several weeks ago, I had a near meltdown at practice because my body was not cooperating. Let me backtrack for a moment. Most Thursday mornings I can be found at the track by 5:50am, ready to take on a speed workout with my group.  The coaches put us through our paces and it is always a weekly workout that is one of my favorites.  While most of the population is sleeping in their cozy beds, some amazing teammates and I are out pounding the pavement in search of better finish times at our upcoming races.  Imagine my dismay when I found myself unable to push and run the way I normally am able to.  After a brief warm up, I approached coach Sami, and had a minor meltdown, saying I could not do the practice and I just felt too tired and sluggish.

My personality is not one to give up. When I decide to get serious about any sport, it can become an obsession.  My old tennis partner Susan, fondly recalls our flight to Palm Springs from Houston when I told her a minimum of 5 times that we were not going to the tournament to lose. I digress....

And we did win the cup!
So back to track practice and here is how the conversation went with the coach.

Me:  "I just can't do it today, I don't know what's wrong with me."
Sami: "Don't get so upset, it's okay."
Me: "I can't figure out why I feel so awful, except life has been busy and maybe I have not been eating, sleeping and drinking well."
Sami: "Lack of hydration and electrolyte replacement can cause all those feelings."

With the actual drills about to start, I separated myself from the group but then went over for a minute to ask Sami something else.  She thought I had changed my mind, and actually, I ended up running a few sets with a girl racing that weekend.  It was at a slower pace than normal for me, but was a huge boost after such a bad warm up.

After practice, I wanted to do some research to see if lack of hydration could be my problem.  Bingo! All the signs pointed to a bad week for me.  The biggest thing I learned from the various articles I found online was that too much water was a bigger problem than not enough. Several runners have died from hyponatremia.  So the lesson here is balance.  If you want to read more, here is my favorite article that I found about the subject in Runner's World Magazine.  As for the amount of fluid you should drink each day, the answer is it depends….

Clearly the easiest thing to check is your urine color.  Light yellow is the key to a properly hydrated body. However, every individual has a different need for fluid and checking your weight before and after a hard workout or run can also give you a clue how much you are losing from sweat and how much to replace. Another factor to consider is how much you are exercising on any particular day.  Obviously if you are running 15 miles, you will need alot more fluid than on a rest day. The same holds true for various weather.  When it is cold, you will not perspire as much so you need to replace fluids is smaller.  Overall, being aware of symptoms and stopping a run to alleviate any serious consequence is probably the most important thing to remember.  No run is worth an illness or worse.

Do you have any other tips about hydration?
(Pam)

12 comments:

  1. So true! Hydration is always important, but I'd say extra important during the summer time. We lose a lot more sweat than we realize in that heat/humidity! Stay safe out there!

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    1. The summertime can be so tough because you always have to be on too of it!

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  2. I drink a ton of water throughout the day! I can tell from the morning into the evening the difference. I hope I am not drinking too much, since it becomes clear by then. ~L

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    1. You are so good! I find that sometimes I get busy and just forget. No good!

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  3. I always wonder how much is too much. I live in Phoenix, so even in the winter, it's particularly dry, so we need water. I'm not sure what the magic formula is, but I can definitely tell when I'm not drinking enough!

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    1. Yes, what is that magic formula?! I think as long as you balance water with electrolytes you're generally safe or at least that's what I tell myself...

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  4. I think the key to hydration isn't just hyrdrating the day of either, it's about the days leading up to the event or run. I can always tell when I haven't had enough water. I start to get lethargic and I can tell when my pee starts to turn yellow again.

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    1. Yes, same for us! We have both had periods where we have struggled this summer from dehydration.

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  5. I agree with Sue. I am usually good the day of and day before, but I know I need to do it constantly, and further in advance.

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    1. I think a lot of us are in the same boat there!

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  6. I usually keep an eye on color, but word of warning...B supplements (I think especially B6) will turn your urine bright yellow, so be aware of what you're taking.

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