Workout of the Week Part II: Hydration

3 Apr

I can’t believe that my half-marathon is one week away! I hope the weather is as beautiful next weekend as it is on this fine Sunday. I’m about to knock out my last long run, and then comes the hard part- the week of rest before race day.

The week(s) right before a race, milage drops considerably and other activities like strength training are decreased to prevent excessive muscle fatigue. I kind of have ants in my pants around the clock, so physical “rest” is difficult for me. Anyone else have ants in their pants when they don’t get a sweat session in or am I the only crazy one? ๐Ÿ™‚

To keep my sanity before race day, I turn my attention to other things like stretching, fueling, and hydrating. That last one is very important.

During exercise, water helps cool the body, maintain blood flow to the muscles, and rid the body of toxins. Dehydration can negatively impact your exercise performance.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • muscle cramps, fatigue & soreness
  • dry mouth
  • sweating may stop
  • lightheadedness or headache
  • dark yellow urine
  • decreased frequency in urination

Proper hydration is important for everyone, but it is especially crucial when intensity, duration, and temperatures are high.

Hydration For Exercise Rules of Thumb:

Before Exercise

Drink 20-40 fl ounces of water (about 3-5 cups) in the 2-3 hours prior to intense exercise.

During Exercise

Drink about 4 fl ounces (1/2 cup) every 30 minutes during intense activity.

*TIP: one โ€œgulpโ€ = about 1 ounce

After Exercise

To determine fluid needs for post-exercise, weigh yourself before and after exercise and drink 16 fluid ounces (2 cups) of fluid for every pound lost during exercise. Because this isnโ€™t always convenient, do it once and use this as a guide for future workouts.

What Should You Drink?

For the average exerciser and workouts <60 minutes, plain water is the perfect rehydrating fluid. For athletes and intense workouts lasting >60 minutes, a sports drink may be beneficial.

A sports drink must have liquid for hydration, carbohydrates for energy and refueling, and electrolytes to replace sweat loss. Zero-calorie sports drinks don’t have carbohydrate for energy, so they aren’t a good choice for intense workouts. Plus they contain sugar substitutes. Yuck. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of drinks like Gatorade because they contain high-fructose corn syrup. Yes, these beverages are effective recovery drinks, but putting high-fructose corn syrup into my body makes me a little uneasy.

My Solution: Coconut water


Coconut water is the clear liquid that comes from the inside of young coconuts. Because of its carbohydrate and electrolyte content, it has been dubbed the “natural Gatorade”. You can find brands like Vita Coco, O.N.E., and ZICO in the beverage aisle of many grocery stores.

Coconut Water Ingredient List: 100% Natural Coconut Water

Gatorade Ingredient List: Water, Sucrose, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Mono-Potassium Phosphate, Ester Gum, Yellow 5, Brominated Vegetable Oils, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 1, Caramel 1

The new Gatorade labels list “Glucose-Fructose Syrup” in the ingredient list, but there is no sign of the words “High-Fructose Corn Syrup”. Did they take out the HFCS? No! Glucose-Fructose Syrup is a less common name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Very sneaky, Gatorade.

The only problem with coconut water is its electrolyte balance. It is heavy in potassium and light in sodium, while Gatorade is the opposite. We lose more sodium than potassium when we sweat, so this makes coconut water a less ideal electrolyte replacer. My solution is to pair my post-workout coconut water with a salty snack such as salted pretzels.

A Few Hydration Tips:

  • Carry a water bottle with you at all times. I never leave the house without a water bottle in tow.
  • Sip water throughout the day. Try to remind yourself to drink every 1/2 hour – 1 hour.
  • Always drink water before, during, and after intense exercise.
  • When out to eat, order a glass of water along with your other beverage choice. Drink a glass of water along with your morning coffee.
  • Water can come from food too! Consume foods with high water content including fruits and vegetables. These help keep you hydrated and curb hunger.
  • Before reaching for a snack, drink a glass of water. Often, we confuse mild hunger with mild dehydration.
  • Monitor urine color. If you are properly hydrated, urine should be pale yellow to clear and transparent.

For exercise fueling tips, check out Part I

Happy Hydrating and Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

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One Response to “Workout of the Week Part II: Hydration”

  1. emily April 4, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Great hydration tips and wonderful job highlighting coconut water and the electrolyte balance. I have a lot of problems with losing sodium, so I definitely would have to pair my coconut water with something salty. ๐Ÿ™‚

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