Friday, November 17, 2006

Pure Clear Water

Today was my strength training day. The exercises are getting more comfortable and it seems that my knees feel better after warming up.

So--what's up with water? Sure we all know that water is essential to life and lack of it will hinder athletic performance, but how many of us drink enough water?

I have a 24 ounce bottle by my bed which I start drinking as soon as I get up. I'll finish my morning bottle before going for the walk or sip it through strength training. In addition, I've been making it a habit to have a 32 ounce bottle of water on my desk and take sips all day long. I usually go through one bottle in the morning and one in the afternoon. If I'm working late I'll go through another bottle, but I always make it a point to take in at least two bottles per day. Of course there's also some liquid for meals and sometimes I'll add a sports drink, but that's in addition to the daily 88 ounces of water.

Is that enough? Well, I'm sure that water requirements vary according to the weather and level of physical effort during the day. I guess I'm taking enough water because I usually take lots of pee breaks in the afternoon. Sometimes it can get very uncomfortable trying to get home if there is too much traffic. I've also gotten into the habit of sitting on an aisle seat when watching a movie.

Now what about keeping hydrated during the long walks? I have a few Amphipod belts and for the really long walks I can load up to six 8-ounce bottles. I'm still experimenting with different mixes of water, Gatoraid and other concoctions, but basically I'm going through one bottle every 4-5 miles. That's about 8 ounces of fluid per hour. Is that enough? I found this table in "Eating for Endurance" by Ellen Coleman:
Hydration Guidelines

Drink 14 to 22 ounces of fluid about 2 hours prior to exercise.
Drink 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise
Drink 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise

Yikes! If I go by this table I'm barely taking in half as much fluids during exercise as I should. In addition, I haven't been weighing myself before and after the long walks so maybe that's something that I should be doing.

So if I take one 8-ounce bottle every 30-minutes and it takes 5.5 hours to complete a marathon that's 11 bottles--no way I can carry 88 ounces on my belt. Funny thing is, that's the amount of water I'm drinking every day.

Back to re-thinking my long walk strategy. Maybe I should start relying on the numerous drinking fountains on the course--but I hate stopping!

But my quest for the ultimate guide to hydration doesn't stop here. I checked out the library at the USA Track & Field coaching area and here's something interesting on the USATF Self-Testing Program for Optimal Hydration paper:

  1. Make sure you are properly hydrated BEFORE the workout your urine should be clear.

  2. Do a warm-up run to the point where perspiration is generated, then stop. Urinate if necessary

  3. Weigh yourself naked on an accurate scale

  4. Run for one hour at an intensity similar to your targeted race.

  5. Drink a measured amount of a beverage of your choice during the run if and when you are thirsty. It is important that you keep track of exactly how much fluid you take in during the run.

  6. Do not urinate during the run.

  7. Weigh yourself naked again on the same scale you used in Step 3.

  8. You may now urinate and drink more fluids as needed. Calculate your fluid needs using the following formula:

A. Enter your body weight from Step 3 in Pounds ____________
B. Enter your body weight from Step 7 in Pounds ____________
C. Subtract B from A = ____________ x 15.3
D. Convert your total in C to fluid ounces by multiplying by 15.3 = ____________
E. Enter the amount of fluid you consumed during the run in ounces + ____________
F. Add E to D = ____________
The final figure is the number of ounces that you must consume per hour to remain well-hydrated.

Looks like I've got my work cut out for me!