Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I’m sure you’ve heard it before:  “by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.”  This is true, not just in the context of exercise, but just going about your everyday business.  So imagine how much more critical it is when you’re working out, pushing your body physically as well as mentally! 

I have been working on a series of blog posts for some friends who are looking for running tips for beginners, and I hadn’t planned to start with hydration, honestly.   But I was just having this conversation with my daughter when I saw this post on Facebook:Dehydration - Leading Cause of Training Injuries.  Any mention of training injuries and/or hydration is sure to get my attention!  I'm completely on board with the need to hydrate, but I had never thought about it CAUSING injury.  Interesting... and it makes sense!

My daughter will be running her first half marathon with me in Walt Disney World in January, and will be training in New York this summer.  I was encouraging her to try out my Camelbak before she heads back to school.  While there will be plenty of water stations along the race route in Disney, running longer distances in Central Park means she’ll need to carry and/or buy water for longer runs. 
I always run with a 20-25oz. water bottle, even just to run a few miles.  I feel 100% better running when I’m well hydrated, and I find the Camelbak bite valve really helps steady my breathing if I’m ever struggling.  The couple of times I’ve run without water have reminded me how much it is totally worth it to me to carry it every time I go. 

For distances over 6 miles, I love this Camelbak HydroBak. 

It holds 50oz of water and is very “low profile”—I hardly notice I’m wearing it!  I will say, I usually run with music, and was kind of surprised at a recent race when I wasn’t wearing headphones (there were 7 awesome bands along the race route!) – the thing really makes quite a bit of noise jostling around back there.  With apologies to other runners along the way who might be annoyed by the noise, I’ll just be turning up the music because having my own water supply is a must!  My longest run so far was 16 miles, and I’ve yet to finish all 50oz. of water before I’ve finished. 

If you can’t stand to carry water with you, there are other options, you just may need to get creative.  I have friends who drive out ahead on their running route and stash water bottles along the way.  On a recent 10-miler with my younger daughter, we stopped at a grocery store on the way and bought a couple of water bottles that she carried in a backpack.  She doesn’t mind the backpack, just doesn’t want to carry a water bottle in her hand.  Everyone’s a little different, you just have to figure out what works for you.
How much water should you drink?   More than you think, I promise!  Take your weight (in pounds) and divide by 2.  That’s the number of ounces you should drink each day PLUS whatever you drink while you’re working out!  So, if you weigh 100 lbs., that’s 50oz. per day, just for starters!  During your workout, recommendations are all over the place, but the “average” seems to be about 8oz. every 15-20 minutes.  For an hour workout, I usually try and finish a large (24oz) water bottle, and then drink another after I’m done.
Don’t like the “taste” of water?  Experiment.  Add some lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber to a pitcher of water.  Try it with or without ice—I’ve found that I actually prefer water without ice with a little lime.  (Our family’s drink order at restaurants, which is really all just waters, has become quite complicated lately: water, water with a lemon, water with a lemon and no ice, water with ice and two lemons… ) If you prefer bottled water, try different brands—there really are differences!  For a little flavor, my favorite is Hint water—it’s a little spendy, but you can find it on sale, and there’s no added sugar nor artificial sweeteners—it just tastes awesome!

If you're not a big water-drinker, I'm guessing your next question is, "what about other drinks?"  I know, I know... I'm a coffee drinker.  I had given it up completely and even made an overnight drive to NYC without it!  The aftermath: 

Then this horribly cold winter plus recovering from injury, I had to have my coffee.  I'm hooked again.  I love my coffee.  But I don't count that toward my water intake. In fact, because coffee tends to DEhydrate you, I actually drink more water to compensate for the coffee.  (And with summer slowly making an appearance, I plan to try and cut or drastically limit the coffee again soon!  shhh... don't tell my barista!)  As for sodas, sugary drinks or "diet" drinks... there are so many good reasons not to, but if you must have them, really try and limit yourself, and don't count those toward your total water intake. You might surprise yourself and find it easier to give those up if you're already drinking so much water! (That's how I got away from coffee.) 
With it warming up here (finally!) it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting enough water to drink.  If you’re thinking you’d like to start running or get into an exercise routine, I’d say this is the best place to start: drink your water!  Get yourself a water bottle and get into the habit of using it every day.  It costs you nothing and takes no extra time out of your day, so you can start NOW, even if you’re busy at work, away on vacation, recovering from an injury, whatever.  There's really no reason NOT to drink plenty of water.  You will notice a difference in just a few days, IF you really stick with it!
So there you go—Running 101: Step One—Drink Up!! 
Give it a try for a week and let me know how you do!!


  1. I'm with you 100%. I always bring water for any run over 5 miles, but as we get into the summer months I'm thinking of just bringing my water belt with me every time. This weekend's marathon was actually the first race that I've brought my own water to, and I don't think I'll ever skip it again. I liked being able to drink when I wanted to, without concern about the water stations.

    1. yep! I have learned the hard way (and sad to say, more than once, cause I can be hard headed)... but with the single exception of Disney races, I'll always bring water. did a 5K in June without water... it's just a 5K, right? wrong! there were no water stations and no water at the end! Color Vibe-- beware! :)
      Which marathon did you run? I agree-- I did a half with my camelbak and it was so nice to have it with me whenever I wanted some!