Here in the U.S. many of us have a drinking problem. I’m not talking about alcohol here. I’m talking about simply not drinking enough water. Sure, there’s a lot of fancy stuff we can do for our health. We can drink sports drinks and down vitamin shots and so forth. But often, the thing that will make us feel better is as close as the nearest tap and virtually free.
There’s not really any excuse. But I’ll admit that I often get busy and tied up with the everyday drama of my life and I forget to drink water. Then comes around 3 PM and I’m sporting a major headache or feeling lethargic. I’m tempted to pop a few aspirins. But maybe all I really need is the glass of water.
Nearly every function in our bodies involves water:
- in saliva and stomach secretions it helps to digest food
- in blood, it helps transport nutrients and oxygen to all the cells of the body
- in body fluids, it helps lubricate joints and cushions organs and tissues · in urine, it carries waste products out of the body
- in sweat, it removes body heat generated during exercise
(from Physician and Sports Medicine, Nancy Clark MS, RD – May 1995).
In terms of athletic performance, few things are more important than being properly hydrated. The amount of water needed varies from person to person. People have different “sweat rates” and therefore have different requirements for replacing water after a workout. But the effects of dehydration on your workout can be pretty traumatic. I know when I did the marathon, I almost derailed the whole thing because I was hoarding my water and not drinking enough. I was afraid they would take down the drink stations and wouldn’t have enough for later. Mary Ann, my awesome training partner, ultimately helped me find a bar, where I stopped in to fill my Camelbak again. (And the two of us popping into a bar along the railroad tracks, mid-marathon, on a cloudy Saturday in November in Springfield, Missouri were a sight to see.) Sure it took a few minutes to do that, but at least it allowed me to finish without the massive headache that had been hampering my progress.
Wondering if you’re drinking enough water? Well my dear, the easiest way to tell is to check your pee. Pale yellow or mostly clear means you’re doing great. Dark yellow means it’s time to get some good old H2O into your system. Most people need 6-8 glasses of water per day. You may need significantly more if you drink caffeine or alcohol, live in a hot climate, or sweat a lot during exercise.
Look, of all the super fancy fitness performance advice I can give you, this is some of the most important. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout sessions. You’ll feel great and you’ll have plenty of fluid left for blood, sweat and tears.
The Fat Chick