On a hot, sweltering day, few things are better than a tall glass of iced water. Throw in a slice of lime, and it’s pure bliss. “Why don’t you carry some water with you?” I asked Komal, a neighbour and occasional running companion. “It’s too uncomfortable to carry it with me while I am running. And, in any case, I drink water before I leave home,” she answered.
Rajneesh, a 20-year-old Law College student with whom I ran a few kilometres one day, had a bewildered look on his face when I asked him the same question, as if suggesting “it’s you older folks who need water.”
I run five days a week, no matter which part of the country, or world, I am in. And, without exaggeration, it is only in India that I see the least number of people with water bottles, on a bench, in their car, or while running.
A significant part of our body consists of water—approximately 60-65% in men and 50-60% in women. Doctors say that our body tends to lose water even when we are idle. This is one reason why they suggest we should drink water right through the day, even while we are at work; not glasses at a time, but at least 3-4 sips at a time. Try it for a week and see how you feel.
The body loses an even greater quantity of water when we run, and it is always a good idea to help replenish its reserves. Water also helps improve stamina.
• Drink a glass of water before you leave home for a run
• Carry a bottle of water and leave it on a bench; take a few sips every time you feel like it
• On a longer run outdoors, carry a bottle in a pouch strapped to your waist
• Drink a little water when you come back home from your run
• Nothing is more refreshing than a cold glass of water after a long run
This is not easy to find in stores but, if you do, remember a few things:
• The belt, once tightened, should not loosen easily
• The bottle should fit snugly
• The pouch should be fabricated so that when you wear it with a filled bottle and jump up and down, or do a stationary jog, it should stay absolutely firm
Other precious fluids
• A glass of orange juice in the morning is a great energizer as well as a good hydrator. Don’t leave home without it
• Tender coconut cream and water have a fantastic blend of salts and sugars and do wonders for the body
Moderation is key
They say it’s healthy to drink alcohol in moderation. The same goes for water and runners. Too little, and you can damage your kidneys or get dehydrated. If you drink more than what is required, you can upset the salt balance in your system and suffer from hyponatremia—a dangerous condition when the sodium concentration in the blood plasma falls below 135 mmol/L.
Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting and headaches. Worse, it can lead to confusion, diminished reflexes, convulsions, stupor or even coma. Novice long-distance runners—half-marathons and up—should be careful of this condition.
What applies to running holds true for your life in front of the computer as well. Always try to keep your body well hydrated. Being hydrated after an alcohol binge is also good to avoid a hangover.
Rahul S. Verghese is a management consultant and founder of runningandliving.com
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