Dehydration & Hydration 101

It is a lovely, rainy morning on Maui and my fingers are crossed that the rain blows by down in the valley so that the kiddo's scheduled for a whalewatch today (darling daughter included) get to go out on the boat and see whales!

Yesterday, I ran in the rain and it was cleansing. Today, I am thinking about water in a different way. Dehydration and hydration.

We have all heard drink 8 cups of water a day, right? I am not here to argue that but to say I, like many others I am sure, fail at getting enough water in me on a daily basis. As a runner this is troublesome in so many ways. But before I talk about how much to drink let's focus on dehydration.

I honestly believe many of us are walking around in state of mild dehydration....or perhaps I don't want to believe I am the only foolish one. Many mornings I start my day by bringing down a cup of coffee to work. I run, do my thing, and later in the morning I feel like the coffee has sucked the life out of me and my head aches. The first pick me up wonderful feeling of coffee is gone and I swear I will never make that mistake again. And I keep my promise until.....the next morning. And yes, as I type this my travel mug of coffee is by me and no, I don't have a water bottle next to it. I should especially since I woke up with a headache today.

Let's look at a list of symptoms together. Do any of the following ring true for you?
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Constipation

A few really stand out to me. That list is a list of symptoms of dehydration. The good news is slight dehyration is easy to treat....start drinking! More severe dehydration will require medical support but I am staying mild today in my conversation.

Over the past year or so I have become more in tune to my need for water as triggered by headaches or afternoon sleepiness. It does make me feel better but the thing is, I still struggle maintaining a good level of hydration throughout the day day-in and day-out. And thirst is a bad guage of your hydration need. Usually by the time I feel thirsty the headache is already in place or building. In other words, I already am beyond the point of need.

If you really want a true representation of your hydration level look at your urine. It should be clear or light-colored NOT dark yellow or amber. If yours is the latter, you need more water but the daily recommendation isn't as easy as 8 cups a day. Sorry, nothing in life is one size fits all.

Hydration needs depend on your health, how active you are, and even where you live! That does make sense that someone baking in the tropics will need more water than someone lounging in the temperate zones, right? Our bodies are 60% water and we want to keep them that way so that our bodies can carry out their functions efficiently. Trust me, you will feel AND look better when properly hydrated. But how much should we drink?

The Mayo Clinic recommends that a healthy male in a temperate climate drink 13 cups or 3 liters a day. For females, the recommendation is 9 cups or 2.2 liters a day. Yep, this is not the cute 8 cups of 8 ounces a day recommendation we hear so often but in all reality, it is easy to remember and gets us close to our target.

Now add in your activity level and adjust for your climate and go from there. Sorry, I have no concrete numbers to give you. Just look at your urine output and how often you go.

And I wouldn't be me if I didn't add one caveat. You CAN drink TOO MUCH WATER! The condition is called hyponatremia and it is rare. Essentially, in this case a person has consumed so much water that their kidneys can't keep up and the sodium in their system becomes diluted. Not a good place to be. But for the vast majority of us, this is of no concern. We are struggling to drink enough water. But for endurance athletes, this is something to think about and it is the reason that when I run long and know I am drinking more I actually switch to a drink with electrolytes. And I do a urine check at the end. I know, gross. But once I get home and go for a potty break I see where I am hydration wise and to be honest, I am often dehyrated not over hydrated. Therefore, I focus my recovery on topping off my water.

Did you know you could win a Hydr-8 water bottle to help keep you hydrated AND support a fundraising to Move Mountains: Bring Boaz Home? Learn more HERE. -- This fundraising opportunity has ended. Boaz is home!!!!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the clearing skies. 
Daily Bible Verse: But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. ~ John 4:14


  1. Thanks for the wonderful reminder, Erica!

    I've read that you need to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. I think that's a better number to follow than just a general 8 or 9 cups. A smaller woman might not need as much, while a larger man might need a lot more. That also gives a good range for someone who is active and lives in a warm climate or someone who lives in a milder climate.

    1. I too prefer this method of drinking half your weight in ounces. I do so much better at that in the summer than the winter though.


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