A friend of mine ran her first full marathon today. She finished the race, but it didn’t go as well as she had expected. After a good first half, muscle cramps set in and the second half was pretty painful–and slow. I was very proud of her for gutting it out and not giving up–which can be very tempting when we are tired, hurting, and not having much fun. Her time doesn’t matter, just the fact she finished.
What impressed me even more was her immediate plan to run another marathon this spring to try to improve her performance. Too many folks want to throw in the towel after a negative experience with a race: “That was hard. Why would I want to do it again?” These days completing a marathon puts a check in a box on a bucket list for many people who have no intention of running a second one. I’m certainly not passing judgement on them, but I’m happy that my friend is going to learn from her marathon experience and try again. Don’t get me wrong–marathons are hard, but that’s what makes finishing so rewarding. Our modern world is rife with technologies and products meant to make life easier (and more unhealthy, unfortunately) Have you ever stopped to consider all of the things we can do while sitting down at home and in our cars? Shop, pay bills, go to the bank, get coffee and food, pick up a prescription, mail a letter, etc. Here in Tucson there’s even a drive thru liquor store. This concept is troubling for many reasons. The good news about exercise is that despite all the gear and gadgets designed to make exercising easier, we still have to actually run (or walk or bike or swim) to get to the finish line. No one (or thing) can do it for us.
There’s a list of cliches, quotes, and proverbs running through my head: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and so on. Today my friend celebrated a victory by not only persevering through something very difficult, but wanting to try it again.
I was working with a customer at my store a couple of days ago and I can’t stop thinking about her. She came in for a new pair of shoes and supportive insoles, as she was working toward a goal of losing about 100 pounds and needing good footwear for workouts. As she was telling me about her struggles with her obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and muscle cramps, I asked her: how much water do you drink each day? Not enough, she replied. It turns out, my customer’s daily fluid intake is shockingly low–probably only about 8-16 ounces a day. Given that an average woman should drink about 10X that amount of water every day, I was, well, horrified to be quite honest. I tried to keep my shock in check as I encouraged her to try drinking more water, tea . . . anything! With the list of dangerous heath problems she is battling, drinking more water is probably the most simple, yet impactful change she can make. She purchased a nice pair of shoes and insoles, and also left with a complimentary water bottle that she promised me she would use every day.
I too struggle to drink enough water (as most of us do, I suspect) and can definitely feel the effects when I don’t. One of my goals this year is to up my water intake. It’s hard to know how much to drink, but as a very active person living in the Southern Arizona desert, I need a lot. As best I can calculate, I should be drinking about 100-120 ounces each day depending on my workouts and the weather. Right now, I’m probably getting about 60-70 ounces. It’s definitely difficult to get it all in, especially during a busy day. I’m trying techniques like drinking a glass each morning before my coffee, keeping my water bottle close by at work, and doing my best not to let myself feel thirsty.
If you are looking for a simple way to be healthier this year, drink more water! Here’s a formula you can use to estimate your needs: Calculate 65% of you weight, and that equals the ounces of water you need to drink each day. Add 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise you do each day. If you live in a hot, dry climate, aim even higher. Of course this is an estimate, but it’s a good place to start. Yes, it is possible to drink too much water, but that’s very rare, especially considering most of us also consume too much sodium and sugar. If water is just too bland for you, try adding a touch of juice or herbal tea.