I used to wake up every morning thirsty and lethargic, which made it really hard to get up in the morning. This is not an ideal scenario if trying to get to an early morning workout. A comfortable bed and a partner beside you will always be hard to leave in the morning for a cycle in the cold and dark, but I realized my dehydration was something I could control and eliminate. Every little bit counts, right?
I realized I was becoming dehydrated overnight, thus impacting my ability to get up and my performance in training. Drinking fluids upon waking up soon eliminated this early morning drag and eliminated one more excuse to skip training.
What is dehydration?
Simple: dehydration occurs when more fluids leave the body than enter it. We lose water constantly as we breathe, sweat and urinate.
This can happen when exercising or through normal, light activity. There are different levels of dehydration, from slight fluid loss all the way to dehydration and significant body weight loss while stranded in the desert.
At night, even though we are not exercising, as athletes, our bodies are working to recover from the previous day’s exertion. This requires water, and when we sleep we obviously are unable to take on any fluids to counteract this water loss. The dry air from air conditioners and heaters also causes excess water loss and dehydration.
How does it impact us?
Hydration leads to headaches, lethargy, bad moods and reduced alertness. Some studies suggest fluid loss affects our ability to sweat and thus cool the body – thus impacting our training and race performance.
We are made of water, particularly the brain and muscles. We’ve all had a cramp in the pool or the end of a run on a hot day, caused by not drinking enough water. Water also lubricates our joints and helps prevent injuries.
Water transports oxygen and nutrients through the body which is key to optimizing athletic performance, while water is key for digestion and breaking down food in the stomach. Some studies suggest a loss of 2% bodyweight can negatively impact performance by 10-20%.
How to tell if you’re dehydrated.
The color of your pee will tell you how (de)hydrated you are – clear if you are hydrated, and dark in color if you are not adequately hydrated. A dry mouth & headache are also signs you may need to drink some fluids.
Hydration is easy to reverse by drinking fluids. You can also eat fruit & veg that are high in water content. Drink a glass of water just before bed to get you through the night. Keep a glass of water by your bed to drink first thing in the morning.
Being slightly dehydrated is not the end of the world – apparently Haile Gebrselassie lost 10% of his body mass while setting the current marathon world record! We don’t need to keep the bottled water industry in business, but for us mere mortals every little bit counts, and I’m a big fan of hydration as an easy win. For me, a glass of water first thing in the morning and last thing before bed helps me get up easily in the morning and attack the day. If nothing else, an urgent need to go to the toilet gets me up and about quickly!
Reach for the water before that enjoying that morning cup of joe.