Hydration is one of the most important aspects of running a successful race. The body uses an enormous amount of fluid during a long distance run. Sweat removes healthy fluid from the body which must be replaced to maintain health. Successful running is dependent upon proper hydration on and off the road. There are many ways to ensure proper hydration, which mainly depend upon drinking enough of the right fluid at the right times during, before and after your long distance rate.
There is no shortage of hydration fluids on the market that are designed for athletes. Many of these are excellent choices to carry on your long run, since water may not replace electrolytes quickly enough to compensate for the rate at which you are losing them through sweat.
These electrolytes are crucial for energy and to prevent dehydration. If you choose to go with a hydration supplement, make sure that you use the same one throughout your training runs that you use during your race. Switching it up with brands and even flavors can cause big problems during the race that you may not have anticipated. In long distance racing, it is always best to stick with what has been tried and tested.
For best results, hydrate heavily prior to your race. Drinking a gallon of water per day while preparing for your long distance race will provide the best results during your race and go the furthest in preventing dehydration. The 24 hours prior to your race are the most crucial. This is the time to drink water and eat water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
Failing to properly hydrate during the race will force your body into rehydration mode during it. Dehydration lowers the volume of your blood flow, which reduces the body’s ability to meet the demands of distance racing. Avoid drinking too heavily the day of the race; 8 to 16 ounces is enough to hydrate without causing you to need the first bathroom shack on the course.
Prior to the race, during your training, avoid sugary drinks or sodas which can cause dehydration. It is also important to limit caffeine or other diuretics which can be counter-productive to your hydration efforts.
Hydrate during the Race
During the race, hit a water stop or take the bottle out of your belt about half way through a half marathon and take a few sips. This should be more than enough to keep you going if you hydrated properly along the course. If you are running a marathon, you should stop every 5 miles for a sip or 2, alternating between water and your hydration supplement.
A word to the wise; do not take the supplement offered on the course if you haven’t tried it during training. If you feel thirsty during the run, do not overdo it drinking either water or supplement. This can cause stomach pain or other ailments you do not want to face on the course. After the race, make sure you drink plenty of fluids to replace those that were lost during your run. This is crucial to the recovery process.
For more advice on running your long distance race with a plan in place, check out our other articles at Runnersgoal.com.