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The art of drinking while you are running: the keys to make your hydration strategy a success

One of the key moments during the races, especially if they are short and fast and you do not want to waste a lot of time, is to approach the refreshment posts to get the bottle of water or isotonic drink (depending on what the organization offers us) and hydrate to keep running safely.

Many runners make mistakes at this crucial moment: failures that can endanger themselves and others. That’s why today we review the most frequent mistakes that runners make when drinking water during races and how we can improve them to avoid situations of risk and to arrive correctly hydrated to the finish line.

Do not skip any supplies

One of the typical mistakes, especially in the beginner runners who have started to participate in races relatively recently, is to systematically skip the refreshments. “Nothing happens, it’s only ten kilometers”, “is that I’m overwhelmed with people”, “I’ll take the bottle in the next” … are some of the most heard phrases among the novice runners.

It is important that we stay hydrated throughout the race to be able to perform at maximum and to avoid possible situations of dehydration, so you should not skip any liquid supplies. If you do not want to drink right at the moment you find it, take the bottle and take it with you (it does not weigh or hinder much, you can take it in the half empty hand) and go taking small sips until you get to the next refreshment station, If there is one.

It is better to lose five seconds by deviating to the side and taking the bottle than paying it later when we notice that we begin to dehydrate.

Care when reaching the hydration stations

Another classic of the races is to run in a zigzag in a hurry and without looking who comes from behind or who passes by our side to get to the liquid refreshment posts: this is where a situation of danger can occur if we do not move Be careful, as we can be “swept” by other runners or take us ahead in our frantic race to the bottles.

In most races hydration stations are located on both sides of the route precisely to avoid this type of zigzag: the best is always to inform us before starting to run. If we know in which kilometer the hydration stations will be located, we can go to one side a few meters before to avoid bothering the other runners.

In any case, refreshments are usually quite long so you do not need to sprint just to see where they start: if you have not placed on the right side of the route or if you go through the center, take it easy to get to the side and always look back before starting to turn.

Do I stop or drink while I’m still running?

Another one of the big questions in the water refreshments of a race is to decide if you keep drinking while running or if you stop to drink quietly. This depends a lot on each person and how they are when they arrive at the refreshment station, but it is normal to take the bottle and continue running while you take small sips.

If you are going to stop at the refreshment, do not do it in the middle of it, since you risk other runners to run you over when they take your bottle to keep running and take you ahead. Better stay at the beginning or go to the end of the refreshment , stand aside and stop there to drink, without hindering the other runners.

Drinking while running is also training: for many runners this is not easy, so it is a good idea to introduce this factor in training (for example in long runs) to go practicing facing the day of the race.

The fact stop to drink not only makes us lose valuable seconds (if you are looking to make a mark), but also can break your racing rhythm (stop-drink-start again) or can hinder your reincorporation to it in the case that you have already felt some kind of pain in the joints. This last was what happened to me personally in the marathon : I stopped drinking and splashing water on me and, when my knee cooled, I could not start. The moral is that since then I have learned to drink “on the move” and I do not think I will stop at a refreshment station again.

Some practical tricks to improve your hydration in the race

  • If you get a bottle with the cap on: avoid throwing it on the floor. A lot of plugs on a wet floor and a lot of runners stepping on them are one of the most dangerous things in a race. It is easy to step on one of the plugs, slip and go to the ground, with all that entails: at least loss of time and, if we put ourselves in the worst, a possible injury (yours or another runner). Use the bins and containers to throw bottles and caps when you’re finished.
  • If you get a bottle without a cap: a good idea is to bring a spare cap stored in the belt or in a pocket of pants. If the bottle is given without a stopper, which would be ideal, but you want to take it for a good stretch (maybe until the next supply), you can always put the spare to be more comfortable.
  • Drink in small sips: when you take the bottle in the supplies, throw some water (being careful not to throw it on you or other runners) and drink in small sips to avoid choking. Avoid drinking the whole bottle of the pull because the feeling of running on a stomach full of water is not usually very pleasant.
  • You can also choose a hydration belt or a hydration or camelback backpack(ideal for long runs where you do not have the presence of sources), but you need to consider the extra weight you will carry with you.
  • Better water or isotonic drinks? If you have a choice between the two in a race supply (and if it is a long race) you can combine the water ( take it when you take the energy gels ) with the isotonic (the times you do not touch gel) . If it is a short distance (ten kilometers or less) it is not necessary to drink isotonic or replacement drinks : with water it is enough to keep you hydrated.


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