So, I think most people have heard that in order to be “properly hydrated” one needs to intake a much larger amount of water than many of us actually consume. It is presumed by many in the fitness profession that most people, in addition to being sedentary far too often, exist in a state of chronic dehydration. The idea is that this lack of proper hydration makes all processes within the body more difficult. Nutrients and chemicals generally require a specific dilution inside our tissues and since we are mostly made of water, these become out of balance.
Conversely, waste products and toxins are more difficult to process out of the body and can cause their own special kind of havoc to our systems. Basically, water is good and you should drink more of it. But, how much?
The most common formula “out there” is to take your body weight and drink half of that number as ounces of water per day. Mine is pretty easy. I’m a hunky and bearded 200 lbs. So, for 30 days I was supposed to drink 100 ounces of water. The following is a breakdown of how that went and was done last spring running up to Bloomsday. I won’t recreate the entire 30 day diary, just the highlights.
Day 1 – I decided that I would probably forget how many 8 oz glasses I would drink if I didn’t have some way of marking them off each time. I also thought that perhaps I would do well if I had a jug with me all the time that was hard to miss.
I’m starting this on a Friday, so I took an empty gallon water jug and measured in 100 oz. and took it with me to work. This was not a bad idea, it was large enough for me to see it in the office between clients and I was able to gobble down about half of that during work. I managed to drink most of the rest before bed. 85oz
Day 2 – Failed miserably or Trainers are people too. I was still recouping from the vacation that I did not sleep on. I took a nap at one point and left my jug in my room. I probably got about 20 oz in.
Day 4 – Got back into it a little more, Man it is tough to gobble down that much water. Still not making it all the way to empty. 70 oz
Week 1 recap – So, I’m definitely drinking more water than I normally would be. I’m averaging about 65 ounces per day so far. I cannot say that I feel much different though my kidneys probably would disagree. I had a fantastic run on Thursday, no soreness, or stiffness to ‘run out’. So, I am at least accepting the possibility that it helped. However, I’ve been building for two months so my body should at some point start feeling good on these runs anyways.
Day 8 – The result from last night was an astounding amount of nighttime toilet trips and an absolutely horrible day following from the poor sleep. Today was probably the worst day so far. I was so tired from ‘going’ all night that I was not on any kind of schedule for drinking at all. Less than 30 oz for sure.
Day 10 – Good day. Did an hour jog/walk with the dogs for 5 miles. That helped motivate me to get the rest of my water in. Success! 100 oz.
Day 11 – Continued to do a good job of starting early. 100 oz
Day 14 – Again, not getting a strong start early enough often enough. I may be ABLE to pound the last 20 oz after 8pm, but I am not willing to risk being up all night. 80 oz
Week 2 recap – At this point it is really about just getting to it early during the day. As with any type of behavior change I was very resistant this week. Its a pain in the ass, I’m rationalizing, bargaining, all that shit. If there were NO difference at all, I’ll be honest, I probably would have given up. However, the reality is that I do feel better in my joints and muscles. In the past, I have been a familiar with the second day soreness from a hard workout. I have FAR less of that than before, and my running is going farther and farther. I’m up on average/day here, 71 oz for the week.
Day 15 – I’m gonna be honest here. I just didn’t want to do it today. I drank a little but I was feeling pouty about it. 40 oz
Day 16 – Reminded myself about what my goals are here long term, not just for water consumption, though it’s intimately related. Also, I know tomorrow is a long run day, shooting for 1.5hours. guzzled. 100 oz
Day 17 – LR was fantastic, had to really stay on it the rest of the day. busy busy. 100 oz
Day 21 – Continues to be a struggle. I just get doing other things and realize that I’m not drinking. Left the jug at work on the way to Jack’s baseball game. I did do 24 oz (3x8oz) in the evening after getting home. Checked the jug in the morning and it was probably 75oz.
Week 3 recap – Lets talk about pee. I have, throughout this challenge been keeping an eye on my pee color. I will definitely say that while not super clear all the time it is now unusual for me to produce the stereotypical yellow. At one point I was curious to know if I could even make yellow snow at all right now. I’m pretty sure I could fill a bottle and do a side-by-side with one that’s water and you’d be hard pressed to tell which was which. I do feel better, but it’s not at all a landslide in terms of trading off how much I have to go, and at what times. 74oz avg
Day 22 – I was more on top today after forgetting my jug last night. Got through most of it. 90 oz
Day 23 – Not great but ok, did my longer run today as Sunday is super busy. That definitely makes you want to rehydrate. 75oz.
Day 24 – Early AM team pictures for Jack, long cold double-header and then another activity afterwards. Did not really get home until 4:30. Kept the jug with me but the constant activity was not helpful. It’s not that I’m using distractions to keep me from drinking, it still continues to be that it’s not in the forefront of my mind and I just forget for 2 hours or so. 60 oz
Day 26 – Better than yesterday, I continue to try and be motivated with how my knee in particular feels. I notice that I’m more likely to stay with it when I know it’s a run day. 80oz
Day 29 – Only two days left. I really hate drinking all this water. tried to end on a high note and I also need to make sure I’m hydrated for Bloomsday. 80 oz
Day 30 – Last day. I did not feel well this morning. Made a strong effort to get started early despite having a headache and not sleeping well. Was consistent and finished it. 100 oz.
30 day recap – So, in general I lack the fortitude to make myself drink 100 ounces for 30 days. I managed the feat completely only 6 times for a whopping 20%. On the whole, for the entire month I was definitely drinking more than I had been used to, illustrating that I was probably not as hydrated as I should have been. The really bad days, 50 oz or less, were 7 of the total, so another 20% (ish). That leaves the rest of the days being what I FELT was really adequately hydrated, usually around 75 oz.
In general, the number of days I have slept through the night is probably less than 5. On several occasions I get up more than once. This is not at all conducive to good sleep. I have learned that essentially, I cannot drink much at all after 8pm if I want to make it through the night.
On those days when I was hanging around 70-85 oz were the days when I felt really hydrated and did not get up to pee so much. During those days I typically started off early and was regular throughout the day. Days when I was crunched or stressed were not good days. I was also better on workout days than non-workout days which makes sense.
THEY say you need to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces every day. I will continue to repeat that as I have no empirical evidence otherwise, although with the caveat that 75% of that is pretty dang good and a worthy goal.
Overall, I was bummed out that I just couldn’t get a rhythm going. That it didn’t become a habit for me. I thought that by the end of the month it would be easier, actually, the last week was the hardest one and I couldn’t wait for this to be over. I found that I do need to be drinking more, and I will, I just don’t think I can feel good about forcing myself to ingest so much.
On the whole, I think it’s important to include food into this number, fruits and vegetables contribute to our hydration as do other drinks. I would include that discussion here but I’ve got to go wee right now.