The Wonder of Water


Ah, yes.  It’s all about water.  Don’t freak.  You are not giving up Diet Coke or wine or sweet tea , but water is going to be your newest awesome addition!  Try to make it your first drink for hydration this week (and beyond) because not only is proper hydration absolutely necessary for basic living, it is also crucial for our running success.  Here's the scoop . . . 


We are all probably in a constant state of dehydration at any given day or week.  How can you tell?  Well, the surest signs of mild dehydration are general headaches or body aches, a dip in our energy level (you know, that 3:00 pm Diet Coke or frappachino call or that tired feeling at 10:00 am making us assume that we didn’t sleep well - it’s dehydration), dark yellow urine, irregularity and the most primal sign, thirst.  (Hey, here's a little fact - thirst is often disguised as a need for an unnecessary snack.  Ever just needed something in the pantry?  Grab some water first and see if you were just thirsty.  If nothing else, you’ve delayed your extra calorie snack!)  

Now, honestly, you can live and even run and exercise in a dehydrated state.  It's not optimal, but your body has adjusted to your crappy hydration habit :)  Your running and exercise performance will totally mimic your dehydration though.  Even a low level of dehydration will reduce your potential exercise performance by 10 - 20%.  That means that if you run a 12 minute mile, it will feel like you are running a 10-11 minute mile.  If you run a 10 minute mile, your dehydrated body will feel like you are running a 8-9 minute mile.  That is a LOT more effort!  Or think about it this way - if you run a 10 minute mile in a dehydrated body, you could be running a 9 minute mile on a consistently hydrated level at the same effort!  And mild levels of dehydration will also affect your reaction time and concentration in sports as well.  That tennis game or golf game has just been affected too.  

The basic physiology behind it is this - when you are dehydrated, your blood gets thicker and slower making it that much harder to oxygenate our whole bodies.  Our heart rate increases, our immunity decreases, our blood vessels become mildly inflamed due to the thickening of the blood, etc. etc.  Basically, you can just say "Hello headache, hello pesky cold, hello crappy run".

I don’t think I even need to mention this, BUT we are currently living on the surface of the sun and carrying 100% humidity on our bodies as well.  Bam!  We’ve just become dehydrated by waking up this morning.  Your body is literally dying for that glass of water.  You are drinking one right now, aren’t you? :)    


Dehydration is SO SO EASY to reverse.  Hey, drink something!  Water - good.  Carbonated water - good.  Iced tea - still good.  Coffee - yep, still good.  Gatorade - fine.  Flavored water - that'll work.  Milk - yep.  Juice - yep.  Wait - did you list caffeinated drinks?  Yes, they even count towards your hydration efforts.  Studies have shown that the amount of urine expelled through caffeinated drinks is immediate (like within an hour) and does not match the volume of liquid that you have consumed.  So caffeinated drinks count too.  (Just remember though that anything besides pure water has some chemical something mixed with that water.  Just sayin’.)  Technically, soft drinks count because they have a water volume, but maybe you could consider cutting down on the Diet Coke intake?  Maybe?  These drinks are hugely acidic and have a real irritating effect on your digestive tract.  Studies have also shown that soft drinks affect the calcium levels in our bones.  Thank you, but no for me.  I used to be a major Diet Coke drinker and just kind of phased them out over these past 3-4 years.  I didn't go "cold turkey", I just started drinking Propel or Vitamin Water instead and now I basically just drink water all day.  And to be more specific, I really like distilled water with some pink sea salt in it.  This little H2O concoction is proven to be the most natural and chemical free water and the sea salt adds some much needed minerals for our bodies to hold on to and process that hydration.  It really doesn’t taste like salt water, I don’t think.  I also love Smart Water, but ANY water will do.  The focus is good ol H2O.  

What about sugary drinks?  Well, they’ll hydrate you, but why?  Why?  You've just burned 300+ calories with your run.  Don't bust it with a full sugar Gatorade or Vitamin Water.  If you recover with these, go for the low cal/sugar free option and still reap the post exercise benefit that the electrolytes have to offer.  (But, seriously, no to sugary Coca Cola, right?!  They use Coke as a polishing agent on chrome on cars and I’m not into drinking cleaning supplies.  I’m not a fan of cleaning either, but now I’m off topic.)

It’s no secret that alcoholic beverages (yes, even a mixed drink with water - I’ve played that game before) affect your hydration level negatively.  I'm not saying to nix the glass of wine or SkinnyGirl Margarita - you just have to replenish your body with more than a glass of water for each alcoholic beverage you consume just to zero out that drink and stay even in your hydration for that lovely adult treat.  A glass of wine at night is cool if that’s your thing.  Have a bottle of water by your bed to nix that morning headache.  That little hangover is dehydration you know.  


"So what's in it for me?  I'm doing fine with my dehydrated state."  Yes, like I stated above, you can operate in a dehydrated body, but here's the upside of a HYDRATED BODY.

  • You will rid your body of fat more efficiently.  (Well hells yes.  Mark me down for that benefit.)  So you are definitely burning fat while running, but it has no way to exit through that dehydrated body of yours.  A dehydrated body doesn’t let go of that precious water that is meant to carry fat and toxins OUT.  Dehydration means that you urinate less, sweat less and expel less vapor from your breathing.  Drink water and let that hydrated blood flow to metabolize that fat out of our bodies through breathing, sweating and regular potty breaks.
  • You will feel brighter.  Literally brighter.  That oxygenated blood is flowing to your brain!  No headaches!  And greater brain activity with those hydrated brain cells.
  • You will feel more energetic.  Oxygenated blood.  Flowing through that body easier.  Muscles - happy.  Organs - happy.  Also, those nasty toxins that are making us feel crappy are being flushed (literally) out of our system.   
  • You will get sick LESS.  Being sick as a mom sucks because we don't have time to be sick.  Ward off that crummy cold or chest infection before it hits.  Water that is present in our lymph system helps fight against diseases. 
  • Your body will be stronger and burn more calories.  Your joints and tissues are now appropriately cushioned in your newly hydrated state.  AND your muscles are supple and flexible, repairing easier and thereby working harder.  Yep, that equals burning more calories.  
  • Our running is easier because our body is hydrated and happy.  Our core temperature is controlled and that is huge in the summer.  We are sweating like we should and our heart is not worrying about pumping thick, toxin laden blood through our bods.  Ahhhh, our run actually feels good!  You are literally a well oiled machine.
  • That hair and those nails and that skin of yours are all going to look fab with more water creating those new cells.   



The rule is NOT the 64 ounces of water that is generally prescribed.  That number comes from a general population measurement and we are much more awesome than a general population number.  For a lot of us, 64 ounces may be the magic number, but the real way to measure your needed water intake is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.  That is the MINIMUM number of ounces of water you should be drinking daily.  Summer Texas heat really pushes that number to 1 ounces per pound of body weight especially while we are exercising regularly.  That means for most of us gals that we should be drinking no less than a half gallon of water a day and a gallon may be more realistic in Texas spring and summer heat.  (Yes, you read that right - a GALLON.)  Remember, you are sweating and breathing more to cool off these bodies even when you aren’t exercising.  But don't drink a ton of your daily water intake in one sitting.  Um, first of all - gross.  Your will literally hear your stomach sloshing.  No no no.  You'll also pee it all out in 45 minutes.  And heaven forbid, do not ever drink until you get a stomach ache or feel nauseous.  That's silly.  (It's called hyponatremia and it's really dangerous as it dilutes all of the sodium and magnesium from our bodies.)  

Just like a running schedule, your new hydration schedule will be gradual so that your body holds on to all of that lovely cool stuff.  Start by drinking a glass or bottle of water first thing in the morning (awesome to add a little fresh lemon juice to it), before each meal and before you go to bed at night.  The benefit is that you’ll probably eat less and feel cleaner and, um <nervous laughter>, you’ll be more regular.  Really, you will.  I keep a gallon of mineralized distilled water on my kitchen counter and just keep it pouring all day.  I drink iced tea when I’m at lunch and most nights enjoy a little pinot grigio so that my kids will live to see another day, but having that water there on my counter definitely makes me more accountable and shows me how successful (or unsuccessful) I was at the water game that day.  At any rate, you will totally feel a difference in a week and I believe you’ll want to continue your new habit.


Still want that Diet Coke, iced tea, latte, pinot grigio?  Well okie dokie - do it.  Have a glass of water (even a half a glass!) before your Sonic happy hour drink or drink a glass of water between each glass of nightly wine and see if that H2O is able to become an awesome part of your life.


Happy hydrating!