Marathon Race Day Hydration

Marathon Race Day Hydration

Race day hydration is something to be considering long before the day of the race. It is something that needs to be practiced and fine tuned so that when race day comes you don’t drink too much and feel water logged, but drink enough that you aren’t extremely dehydrated halfway through or by the end of the marathon. Have you been training with hydration in mind and practicing exactly how you will hydrate come race day? 

It’s important to use your long runs to experiment with the type of drink you will use on race day and how you will intake that fluid. Will you use handheld bottles or use what the aid station provides? Will you drink water, lemon lime Gatorade, or some of both? What does your body respond to best? It is important to consider these things as you are training so that come race day you don’t have to worry about how your body will respond to a different piece of equipment or type of drink.

Some runners learn this the hard way. A member of the Tunnel Marathons team paced a runner in a 100 mile trail race. When taking over pacing duties the runner complained that his lower back hurt. After a few minutes of probing, the runner mentioned he only used handheld water bottles during long training runs and this was the first time he had used his camelback in over a year.

Had this runner practiced with a camelback instead of the handheld water bottles, would his back still bother him during the race? Maybe. However, there is a good chance that because he had not allowed his body time to practice carrying a camelback the added weight is what caused his low back pain.

Tunnel Marathons provides water and Gatorade at each aid station, if you plan to use the aid station fluids you will be drinking out of paper cups. If you stop and drink you should be good to go. If you plan on grabbing a cup and running through the aid station, I would suggest you set up a table with cups filled with water, and after a workout practice drinking on the run by grabbing a cup off the table as you go by.  Kevin tells me there have been a few times in races where he has gotten more air than fluid.

Whether you decide to drink water or Gatorade is up to you, however, there are benefits to drinking an electrolyte drink such as Gatorade during an endurance event. It is recommended to drink a combination as long as you use both during training.

Below are a few tips to help you navigate the aid stations come race day:

  • Aid station tips:
    • Aid stations are spaced out roughly every 2.5 miles. Before you get to the aid station, decide which beverage (water and/or Gatorade) you will want.
    • There will be two tables, one with water in papers cups and the other table will have lemon lime Gatorade in paper cups. The Gatorade will be easily recognizable by the color of the fluid. About 20 yards before the aid station yell out what you want two or three times, this allows volunteers time to get you what you need if there are other runners in front of the tables. Yelling out what you need will help you spend less time at the aid station.
  • Race Day Tips:
    • On race day sometimes runners get anxious about the start of the race and have a tendency to intake more fluid than they normally would before a long run. Come race day as you are warming up be mindful of the amount of fluid you are taking in so that you don’t over drink.
    • Finding what works best for you will take practice. Start thinking about how you will hydrate come race day and practice that in your longer runs as you are training for the marathon.

Hopefully, this article gave you insight into what to expect come the day of the race and how to prepare yourself to be optimally hydrated. These techniques are meant to be practiced and should not be implemented the day of the race for best results. Keep in mind that changing something as small as how you carry liquids could have a larger impact on you come race day.

~Sierra, The Tunnel Marathons Trainer