Ironman Eric Hinman: How I Hydrate

Eric Hinman

Eric Hinman is an inspiration. An endurance athlete and 5-time Ironman, he pushes himself to be the best he can be daily through rigorous training and a conscious pursuit of well-being. While his days look a lot different than most of ours, including extraordinary workouts and long rides, we can learn a lot about our own self care from experts like Eric. Hydration is imperative to endurance athletes. We asked Eric to share his thoughts and habits around hydration and hope to provide some helpful information for you to gauge your own.

SL: What is your philosophy/approach to hydration?  
EH: I don’t have a specific hydration goal other than I just want to feel hydrated all the time. I start the day by drinking 16-20 ounces of water and have water all day long.

SL: How much water do you drink daily? 
EH: From start to end, I am hydrating all day. I probably drink about a gallon of water throughout the day, probably a gallon and a half when it’s a big day and I’m doing two workouts and sauna sessions at night. Here’s my hydration routine:

    • First thing in the morning: 16-20 oz water
    • Homemade cappuccino or latte: 6-8 oz
    • After first workout: 32 oz water with electrolytes
    • During morning ride 12-16 oz with electrolytes
    • Sometimes during evening recovery routine: (3) 32 oz water
    • With dinner: 20 oz water
    • Before bed: 12-16 oz water
    • Bedside throughout the night: 12-16 oz water
    • Total: 206 –224 oz

SL: Do you drink water only, or do you add or drink other things to hydrate?
EH: I drink water, and during or after workouts I replenish with electrolyte packets in water. I like using Beam electrolytes and Vital Performance–those are my favorite packets. Sometimes during my evening recovery routine, I do electrolytes, sometimes I don’t.

SL: Do you have any stories or lessons learned about hydration?
When you’re racing in the Ironman World Championships, it’s almost impossible to stay hydrated. You just can’t take in enough water; you’re depleting so much, and your stomach is going to get too full. So, you know, to some degree, on long 3–4-hour bike rides I oftentimes don’t bring much water with me when I want to train my body to perform while still being dehydrated, to recreate that Ironman competition experience and prepare for it. That’s obviously not something I would recommend for a lifestyle athlete! But when I was racing like that it’s just part of the game. You’re gonna be dehydrated if it’s a hot and humid climate. So yeah, especially then I think it’s super important not only to hydrate with water by adding the electrolytes.

SL: Do you have a favorite water bottle?
EH:  My favorite water bottle is Ten Thousand. They have an awesome, awesome 32-ounce water bottle that keeps water cold for like a day or two. It’s incredible. Ten Thousand water bottle

SL: On your recovery days, do you do anything specific related to hydration to help recovery?
EH: I don’t really have specific recovery days because I’m usually moving every single day and I’m doing that recovery routine literally every single night. I’ll usually go through probably three 32-ounce bottles while I’m doing my multi round recovery routine, which is 20 minutes in the sauna, five minutes in an ice bath repeating that three times. So, I’m sweating a lot during that time period.

SL: How much water do you drink before you get in your sauna?
EH: I’m usually drinking while I’m in the sauna and not so much before. And it’s usually when I start to get uncomfortable, I’ll start to drink water. And then when I get out and go on the ice, I’ll definitely drink a bunch.

SL: Researchers are telling us that many of us walk around mildly dehydrated and don’t even realize it. You are so in tune with your body and conscious of being hydrated, will you explain what it feels like to you to be well hydrated?
EH: It’s a lot easier to know if you’re dehydrated. If your mouth is dry, if your energy levels are low, if you’re feeling lethargic, those are likely indications that you are dehydrated. For me dry mouth is probably the biggest sign and then just feeling lethargic is probably the second. I think a lot of times also we mistake being hungry for just being thirsty. So oftentimes, if I’m feeling hungry, I’ll drink water before I eat anything just to see if that’s really what I needed. I would encourage people that when they’re feeling a little bit of hunger to drink water, and that might be a sign that they’re dehydrated and not just hungry.

On the other end of the spectrum, feeling hydrated is just feeling good. It’s not that full stomach feeling with water sloshing around your stomach. It’s when you feel like the best version of yourself. You feel like you can exercise, and you have mental clarity. Those are all signs that you are well hydrated.

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