During the Race
1. Research. Figure out what sports drink the race will be providing at the aid stations.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice! Plan ahead of time what you are going to do in the race and practice this during several long run and workouts leading up to the race. If you don’t like the sports drink that the race will be providing, find an energy gel that works best for you. Carry your preferred gels with you and use them throughout the race.
If you do use gels instead of the drink provided, make sure to drink water with the gel. Some recommended brands are: Gu, Hammer Gel, E-Gel, Carboom, and Powergel. Every person has different preferences so find out what works best for you and practice using that product!
3. Do Not Overhydrate. Too many runners are worried about getting dehydrated during the race so they end up drinking too much. Hyponatremia (over hydration) can be more dangerous than dehydration. Do not drink 2-3 cups of fluid at every single aid station. There is no evidence that you have to replace 100% of your fluid losses during a race to achieve maximum performance.
4. Estimate Your Hydration Needs: Try to gauge what your fluid losses will be during the race by paying careful attention to how much fluid you typically lose during long runs and workouts. The easiest way to do this is:
- Weigh yourself right before and immediately after several of your runs in the conditions and at the pace you hope to race. Repeat this several times so that you can get the best estimate possible.
- If you run at your goal race pace for one hour and lose 1 pound (equivalent to 16 ounces) and drank 16 ounces during your run then you lost a total of 2 pounds (32 ounces).
- Therefore you would want to aim for replacing no more than 32 ounces and no less than 16 ounces of fluid per hour. Split this amount evenly throughout the aid stations you will pass by during that hour rather than trying to take all of your needed fluids at one or two aid stations.
- Adjust if the conditions are warmer or colder than you expected.