By Kathy Ireland, MS, RD, LDN
During the warmer months, runners tend to be diligent about staying hydrated. It tends to be easy to do since the warm weather keeps our thirst mechanisms in check and our bodies tell us to drink regularly. In the winter though, it can be more of a challenge. Cold weather stifles the thirst mechanism even though we’re likely sweating just as much.
So, here are some tips to ensuring you are adequately hydrated this winter training season:
1. Check your urine. Monitoring your urine color is a more effective means of determining your hydration sta-tus than sticking to a set number of ounces of fluid per day. Urine should be a pale yellow color (like lemonade). Darker shades of yellow and amber may mean you’re de-hydrated or approaching it. (Clear urine means you’re over hydrated and should ease-up on the fluid intake.) Frequency of urination is important to track too. You should be urinating every 2-4 hours throughout the day—urinating less frequently could be another sign of dehy-dration.
2. Hydrate before, during, and after your workouts just as you would in warmer months. Again, in warmer months your body does a better job of telling you when to drink during a workout. If you typically run with water or plant it along your route, then do the same in the winter. Your body needs it just as much, if not more. If you’re chilled to the bone post-workout, no need to guz-zle cold water, try sipping some non-caffeinated warmer beverages instead, just make sure you consume enough to replenish any fluid loss dur-ing the workout.
3. Drink throughout the day. This may seem like a no-brainer, but for some people the winter just doesn’t have you feeling thirsty. In the colder months, reach for warmer beverages to warm you up while keeping you hydrated. Instead of grab-bing an extra cup of coffee, herbal and decaffein-ated teas are better choices because they provide hydration without the jolt of dehydrating caffeine. If your diet plan allows for a treat, reach for hot chocolate or warm apple cider instead of a brownie or slice of apple pie for extra fluid and fewer calories.
4. Choose water based foods for extra fluid con-sumption. Since you can’t chug back a cup of herbal tea as easily as you can a bottle of water, sometimes turning to foods that are high in water content is your next best bet to staying hydrated in the winter. Soups are an obvious choice and quite enjoyable in the winter. Choose low-sodium varieties whenever possible or better yet, make your own using low-sodium broth or seasoning with herbs and only limited salt. Have a cup or bowl alongside your lunch or dinner daily for extra fluid. Fruits and veggies are also loaded with wa-ter. Hopefully you’re eating plenty of them anyway, but adding an extra serving of each won’t hurt.
So, seep in these tips as your winter running starts heating up.
Kathy Ireland is The Level’s hydration expert. This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Level Renner. Get your free subscription today (box in upper right portion of screen).