Week 3!  Hey - grab a bottle of water while you read this.  How 'bout it?!

So with two weeks of training behind you, your body is coming to the realization that you are in this sport for good :)  You are conquering a greater distance with less effort.  Those 7 minutes of running in week 1 is definitely achievable without wanting to die now!  Your muscles are stronger - especially those legs.  Your soreness may be diminishing.  Your resting heart rate has decreased (this is good!) and your body is more efficient.  Look what 2 weeks has done.  Yea!

Our topic this week . . . . hydration.  That's the fancy sports word for "DRINK WATER".  Not only is hydration absolutely necessary for basic living, it is also crucial for our running success.  Here's the scoop . . . .

So these bodies of ours are starting to really get the hang of this and are running (literally) more efficiently.  Our blood is flowing with more oxygen and with less effort.  Our muscles are repairing and rebuilding into strong, toned legs and metabolizing that unwanted fat out of our bodies.  Hooray!  Our heart is stronger with the gradual challenge and recovery that we are giving it through walking and jogging.  But all of this means zilch, zero, nada if we ignore our body's need for water.  Plain simple water.

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, a dip in our energy level, 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.)  And now adding to this habitual dehydration is your running activity which further dehydrates you through sweating and breathing. 

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.  Even a low level of dehydration will reduce your exercise performance by 10 - 20%.  That means that if you run a 12 minute mile (this is about what we run in group runs), it will feel like you are running a 10 minute mile.  That is a LOT more 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". 

But 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 lost 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.  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 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.  Honestly, I'm not sure I could stomach a whole Diet Coke now.  Not judging . . . just something to think about :)  And sugary drinks?  Why?  Why?  You've just burned 300 calories.  Don't bust it with a 140 calorie Coke or full sugar Gatorade or Vitamin Water.  Go low cal/sugar free on these drinks.  (But no to Coke, right?!)

Alcoholic beverages (even a mixed drink with water) affect your hydration level negatively.  I'm not saying to nix the glass of wine or gin and tonic - you just have to replenish your body with a little more than a glass of water for each alcoholic beverage you consume.  A glass of wine at night is cool.  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.  So you are definitely burning fat while running, but it has no way to exit through that dehydrated body of yours.  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.  Our joints and tissues are cushioned in our hydrated state.  Our muscles are efficient and burning more calories. 
  • Our running is easier because our body is hydrated and happy.  Our core temperature is controlled.  We are sweating like we should.  Our heart is not worrying about pumping thick blood through our bods.  Ahhhh, our run actually feels good!
  • That hair and those nails and that skin of yours are all going to look fab with more water creating those new cells.  

So let's aim for 10 glasses a day in this Texas heat while we are exercising regularly.  We are sweating and breathing more to cool off these bodies.  But don't drink 10 glasses in one sitting.  No no no.  You'll 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.)  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.  Add an extra glass of water (or your drink of choice) today.  Add another extra glass of water to your diet in about 3 or 4 days.  Keep it up until you just get in the habit of drinking more.  No need to count water intake.  Just start hydrating more.  You will totally feel a difference in a week.

Gatorade or Powerade are great for our water intake also after exercise.  It restores our muscles with much needed water as well as sodium (to keep the water in - you want to keep the water in) and potassium (to keep muscles from contracting and cramping).  Grab a low cal Gatorade after a run and drink another later in the day if you'd like.

So how was that water during your read?  Go put a bottle by your bed right now.  I'll see your hydrated body at our next run!