More than a few of us will be waking up on New Year’s Day feeling like we’re coughing up sand. In fact, the blame for many of the worst aspects of a hangover – having a mouth that feels like the Sahara desert, why-is-the-ceiling-moving-when-I’m-not dizziness and that unquenchable thirst – can be pinned squarely on dehydration.
But dehydration isn’t just a problem when we’ve been a little too festive during the festive season. Not being properly hydrated can affect us throughout the year, especially when we’re active.
Why is hydration important?
Two-thirds of our bodies are made up of water, and it’s essential that we maintain that proportion. If we don’t get enough fluids, we can fatigue quickly, get headaches and have difficulty concentrating. We also can’t digest our food properly, regulate our temperature through sweat or remove waste efficiently. You get the picture: when you’re dehydrated, you don’t perform at your best – hangover or not.
How much water should I drink each day?
The definitive, 100% scientific answer to that question is: it depends. According to the British Nutrition Foundation we should aim to drink around 1.6L–2L of water a day, in addition to any fluids we get from food and other drinks. But exactly how much each of us needs depends on our age, sex, activity level and even the temperature outside.
… And what about that activity?
When we’re active, we sweat. And when we sweat, we lose fluid – which must be replaced to keep our bodies happy and healthy. Even being a little bit dehydrated can affect our athletic performance. Numerous studies have demonstrated a relationship between dehydration and a loss of mental agility and pace in athletes … and it’s no less true for the rest of us.
Drinking little and often throughout a run is a good way to keep on top of your hydration – and being well hydrated before you start is even better. If you’re planning a run in the evening, keep a 2L bottle of water on your desk to work through throughout the day. For most runs you’ll do, plain old tap water is fine, but to fuel for and re-hydrate from longer runs, you might want to consider a sports drink.
If you really want to get scientific about it and ensure you’re replacing your fluids properly, weigh yourself before and after a run. Most of the difference between the two figures will be sweat, so keep that amount in mind when you’re planning your hydration and rehydration strategies. But don’t overdo it: while dehydration is dangerous, over hydration is dangerous too.
Everyone has different amounts of fluid they can tolerate when on the move, but in general, small, frequent small sips are best. Taking on large amounts of water during a run or a race isn’t just impractical, it’s also uncomfortable.
Take a look at our full range of water bottles and hydration accessories here.