Up to 70% of your body weight is made of water. You can live for a month without food, but only a week without water. 80% of your brain tissue is water. Yes, we get it. Water is essential for health and wellness. But when you become an athlete (and you are an athlete, you triathlete you), staying hydrated becomes vital to your performance and recovery.
Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you stay hydrated.
Drink half your weight in ounces
We’ve all heard the “8 glasses a day rule.” But did you know that 8 glasses isn’t enough? You should be drinking half your bodyweight in ounces each day. That means if you’re a 140lbs, you need to drink 70 ounces of water every day for basic hydration. If you’re sweating, you should drink an additional 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of exercise. Be sure to sip slowly so that you don’t upset your tummy. Consistent sipping throughout the day is key- if you’re already thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated.
Squeamish alert (skip this part, squeamish friends!): The best way to gauge how hydrated you are? Look at your pee. Dark yellow means drink more, clear means drink less. Aim for pale and you’re in the right range.
Always have your water bottle with you
Every night before I go to bed I throw an empty, reusable water bottle into my bag. Every morning when I get to work I fill it up. And I keep it right in front of me and make sure I refill it at least once during the day. The bottle serves as a visual reminder to drink more water, and having a refillable bottle makes me want to, well, refill it. I also find that I do better with a bottle that has a lid. A secure lid. My computer keyboard thinks this is a good idea as well…
Hydrate with more than just water
When you sweat you lose more than just water. Salt, electrolytes, minerals- all things crucial to functioning body parts. Coconut water is a great, natural way to replace those electrolytes. Be sure to buy a brand that is pure coconut water, no added sugar. Why drink the good stuff when it’s been contaminated with the bad stuff?
Eating fruits and veggies with a high water content offers major hydration benefits as well. Watermelon, cucumber, grapefruit, and even avocado are more than 80% water by weight! Another great way to liven up your water? Freeze chunks of fruit with water in your ice cube trays and add to your water bottle, or throw in some lemon, mint, or cucumber. If it tastes good, you’ll drink more of it.
Balance your water intake
Surprisingly, there is such a thing as being over hydrated. It’s called hyponatremia and it happens when your sodium levels are too low. This can occur when you’ve taken hydration to the extreme, consuming too much water and diluting the amount of sodium in your body. This can cause nausea, headache, fatigue, cramps, and in severe cases, seizure and coma. Yikes! But don’t be afraid- you’re more likely to be under hydrated than over hydrated. Just be sure to balance your hydration with electrolyte consumption. Product plug: I am a big fan of nuun active hydration, an “electrolyte enhanced drink tablet designed for an on-the-go lifestyle. packed with electrolytes, light flavor, and no sugars or carbs, nuun is the perfect sports drink for any of the activities you do.” Drop one yummy tab into 16 ounces of water and it will fizzle into a delicious, hydrating concoction that will perk you right up. I love to make a concentrated dose and freeze it in an ice cube tray to add to my water (or margaritas…).
I hope these tips help you get your hydration levels on point. Have a question about hydration and training? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask! If I don’t know the answer, I will find out. I’m happy to look like an idiot so that you don’t have to.
Time for a disclaimer… The Anxious Triathlete is an enthusiastic young woman with a sarcastic sense of humor who enjoys sharing her passion for triathlon. While everything she posts is the result of personal experience, she is not a personal trainer, doctor, or certified coach (yet…) and would like to remind you to consult with your friendly licensed medical professional should you have any concerns about trying things mentioned on this site. Safety first.