Are you hydrated enough? A very simple, very short test gives you a good idea!
A while ago I did a video about the “drink eight glasses of water per day” myth, that goes back to a severe misunderstanding.
I wager that myth is also the reason why especially many runners believe you can never have enough fluid and end up severely overhydrated. Which is a real medical condition, known as “hyponatremia.”
A case for concern? I think so. Already eight years ago the New York Times reported deaths connected with it. And a 2008 scientific review mentions that 15% of the participants in the 2002 Boston marathon suffered from hyponatremia.
Overhydration and dehydration can both be dangerous. So how do you know you had enough and not too much? A simple test gives you an idea:
How Can You Tell If You Are Hydrating Too Much?
Now what about the other way around: how can you tell you had more fluid than is good for you?
The biggest telltale sign is weighing more after your run (or biking, triathlon etc.) than you did before. When rings or running shoes become too tight, when the waistband starts to pinch, then you have been inserting more liquid than you should.
Acute hyponatremia looks more dire. It starts with headaches and vomiting and ends with seizures, unconsciousness and coma. The Mayo Clinic has great in-depth information about the condition.
It’s safe to say that when you are in that state, you need medical attention.
Drink When Thirsty Or Weigh Yourself
To get around all this, the easiest way is using nature’s intended warning system for dehydration, just as I said in the video: drink when thirsty. I know the “thirst is too late” line, but don’t believe it. In any healthy person thirst happens before dehydration.
If that is too vague for you and if you believe that perfect hydration gives you a better performance, weigh yourself before a run and afterwards. If you weigh less when finished, drink a little more during the next run. If you weigh more, drink a little less.
Picture courtesy of “Rubbermaid Products“.