We’ve all seen the marathoners who go through life lugging gallon jugs around as part of a hydration strategy that involves all-day sipping. But, is it really necessary (or even a good idea) to drink water or other liquids all day long? The answer is simple and frustrating: it depends.
Hydration needs depend on your physiology and activity levels
Every athlete has different hydration needs. You may have been told to drink 17-20 ounces of cold water or sports drink a few hours before each workout. You may run with the gallon jug set, aiming to consume 128 ounces of water a day. Typically, a decent starting point is 0.5-1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day, so it’s pretty obvious that hydration strategies cover a wide range of recommendations that just won’t work for everyone.
Just like choosing any training strategy based on a “one-size-fits-all” approach is generally not a great idea, hydration is the same. Use established guidelines as a jumping-off point for developing your personal hydration plan. Here are some ways you can tell if your hydration strategy is working or needs adjusting.
Monitor your performance
Dehydration during a workout can manifest as lagging energy levels, loss of coordination or strength, rapid muscle fatigue, and cramps. If you have any of those symptoms, you most likely started your workout at a detrimental level of dehydration. Drink water after your workout, and before your next one, to hydrate with intention. Monitor your next workout and add more fluids if symptoms persist.
Here’s a list of tips and signs to watch for that indicate dangerous dehydration levels.
Check your urine output
A glance at your urine color and an honest assessment of how frequently you eliminate will tell you a lot about your hydration levels at any time. If your urine is completely void of color, you may be drinking too much water and affecting your electrolyte levels. Aim for light-colored (often referred to as “straw-colored”) urine, and drink more if you notice that it’s getting dark or smelly.
Consider how much you sweat
Some people sweat more than others, resulting in a need for more hydration. Also, perspiration levels vary depending on effort and ambient temperature. An outdoor workout in the heat of summer is going to require more cooling, and more sweat and resulting water loss, than an indoor Yoga session in the air conditioning. Adjust your water intake to prepare for workouts and replenish lost water after a particularly sweaty workout.
Use your Etage member benefits
As a member of Etage Athletic, you have access to filtered water stations throughout the facility. Use those to refill your water while you work out, and take frequent breaks to ingest the liquid fuel your body needs for peak performance.
While you’re at it, bring a friend who can remind you to get your water bottle reps in as you train. Your friend can get a free guest pass to check out the benefits of membership before they join.