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    Water Wisdom

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    Half your weight (in pounds)—that’s how many ounces of water you should drink a day, says Yuri Elkaim, a nutritionist, fitness expert, former pro soccer player and strength and conditioning coach. Unless you’re a coxswain currently, that’s a significant increase from the old “eight cups a day” (64 ounces).

    Specific needs vary among individuals, of course, but another good way to make sure you’re hydrated properly is to keep drinking water until your urine is “clear and copious.” In other words, what comes out should look like what went in. 

    Hydration is a safety issue most often in the heat and humidity of summer. Water is vital for regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients, removing waste, and even lubricating joints and muscles. Beyond poor performance, dehydration can result in illness, heat stroke, and even death. Rowers whose urine is dark yellow before a practice or race, especially in the heat of summer, should not launch until hydrated adequately.

    At the other extreme is hyponatremia, which results from overhydration—when too much water drives your sodium levels too low. When you sweat, not only water comes out; you also lose electrolytes and sodium. As Nancy Clark has pointed out in these pages, if you crave something salty during or after rowing, listen to your body and ingest something salty. A good sports drink can replenish what was lost, as will a bag of chips or a packet of soy sauce or salt in an emergency.

    A simple way to understand dehydration and hyponatremia is to think of sodium as the constant your kidneys are trying to maintain, despite fluctuations in water intake and outflow, while performing the vital function of filtering your blood. Drinking too little water results in dehydration; too much (without sodium replenishment) can lead to hyponatremia. 

    In rowing, as in life, the key to health and success is to keep things in balance. 

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