The Importance of Hydration

We all know that water is a necessity to survive.  I believe I have heard that our bodies are made up of 75% water.  Not getting enough water can cause dehydration, which can be dangerous, especially if you are losing a lot of fluids through illness or sweat.  For a while, there was a recommendation to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day but recently I believe that it has been determined that there is no prescribed amount of water you should drink, as you do get hydration from food and drink that contains water.  The most important thing is to keep yourself hydrated enough to prevent thirst and to drink more water in situations where you are losing fluids. 

That said, I have never really been a big water drinker.  Growing up, the drink of choice in our household was iced tea.  You only drank water if you were hot and sweaty and super thirsty.  On special occasions, like holidays or birthdays, Mom might bring home some soda and that was a treat!  As a teenager, I drank more soft drinks because, well frankly because I could.  I had a job and could buy my own soda when at school or out to eat with friends.  I still only drank water when I was really thirsty after a workout.  As an adult, I began to phase out much of my soda drinking, and did replace it with water during meal times, but you know, I like to drink stuff that has flavor and well, water just doesn't have any!

It wasn't until I was pregnant that I realized the value of drinking a lot of water throughout the day.  My pregnancy spanned the summer months and I had been warned by my doctor and in pregnancy books that dehydration can cause early labor/premature birth.  So I dutifully drank glass after glass of water.  I brought a water bottle to work and filled it up repeatedly with water from a Brita pitcher in our break room fridge.  After Eva was born and I began breastfeeding, I was told to continue drinking large amounts of water because hydration was key to producing the right amount of milk.  The hospital gave me a handy water jug with a big plastic bendy straw, so I constantly kept it full of ice water and drank from it all day while on maternity leave. 

Now that I am back out there running on a regular basis, and have gotten into a really good habit of keeping myself well hydrated throughout the day, I must say I can tell a real difference in my running performance when I have had plenty of water versus when I haven't.  Some afternoons, when I am dragging just a bit after lunch, I may have a diet soda.  Drinking this cuts into my water drinking for the afternoon, so I may not get as much water that day.  Boy can I usually tell when I go out for my run in the evening.  It seems like I am more prone to side cramps, my legs feel heavier, and my whole body just feels sluggish. 

Now I know that part of this may have to do with the fact that some days are just better running days than others.  Not every run can be a good one.  But I am convinced that being properly hydrated really does play a big role in the quality of my running.  So even though I am not pregnant and I am barely nursing anymore, I am still making sure to keep up my water intake.  Certainly can't hurt!

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