PSA: Are You Hydrated? (Not Just While Working Out)
Hydration is something I speak a ton about when I do shop talks, and most recently at one in NY at Savile Road (awesome shop, especially if you’re looking for a custom build or amazing bike fit!), we got into a serious discussion about the impacts of what we drink during the day, not just what we drink on the bike. It’s actually pretty easy to stick to hydration guidelines on the bike, once you’re used to it and understand why it’s important (and feel the difference between a ride where you’re sipping regularly and one where you forget a bottle)!).
But what about off the bike, or well before we head out on a run? I notice that, especially when I’m not in one place, traveling a bunch, or honestly, even just in the zone with work, I forget to stay hydrated throughout the day. I start the morning with about 12 ounces of water + a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, followed by another full glass of water with a greens powder before I start in on coffee. (Again, I try for most days, but when we’re up at 5am and getting in the car, it doesn’t always happen.)
After breakfast though, I definitely know that I have a tendency to forget to sip water throughout the rest of the day.
So lately, I’ve been dehydrated. In a way that shows… For me, signs of slight-but-chronic dehydration range from dull or super oily skin, a “lagging” feeling, constipation (always fun!), general gut discomfort, fatigue, and a much slower recovery from hard workouts. Basically, I turn into a huge mess!
There isn’t a great guideline for how much water a person should drink in a day, especially an active one. The old one that I heard since grade school is 64 ounces, but to me, that seems low—and new recommendations are often higher. Most experts I’ve talked to prefer using the ‘pee test’ as a better indicator: you want light yellow or close-to-clear urine, and if it’s bright or dark yellow, that’s usually a sign you need to drink more. (Though it may also be caused by certain supplements, and stuff like beet juice can make it really hard to tell what color your urine would be if it wasn’t red—so consider what else you’re drinking/eating before panicking.)
Personally, I don’t keep track of exactly how much I drink, I just know that I feel better when I’ve been sipping on water or herbal tea throughout the day, steadily—not slamming a bottle post-workout, or trying to catch up at night. But it’s embarrassing to realize that some travel days go by with me drinking *maybe* a bottle of water (plus a lot of coffee)… No wonder I feel like crap for a couple days after those drives!
It’s not quite spring here in Ontario, so I’m more inclined to be drinking tea these days—and keeping the kettle nearby and having my tea selection here makes it a lot easier. I’ve been struggling a bit when I’m in yoga teacher training for 8 hours on Saturdays and Sundays, though, and between those days and a few 10+ hour days in the car or on planes, it’s set me back a fair bit. It’s amazing how fast your body can start feeling the effects of being a little dehydrated!
That’s my nutritional PSA for this week: Don’t just think about your hydration status in and around workouts, be thinking about it holistically, looking at your full day of drinking. It’s so much easier to stay optimally hydrated on a long ride if you weren’t a bit dehydrated to begin with!
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