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April 1, 2014

Pre-Race Hydration Tips for Runners

With the GO! St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend right around the corner, we reached out to our friend Brian Lyons, director of race management, at GO! St. Louis for some helpful hydration tips runners can use to prepare for the big day.

Like any endurance athlete, runners spend months in advance training their minds and bodies for their big race. It’s the runners who take hydration seriously the last couple of weeks leading up to the race that will separate themselves from the pack. Whether you’re running your first marathon or your fifth 5K, here are some tips you can use to hydrate properly before race day.

Start hydrating early
Although runners know that drinking water and staying hydrated is important for peak athletic performance, most don’t realize that proper hydration begins weeks before it’s time to lace up their shoes at the starting line. Two to three weeks before the race, you’ll want to make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day and replacing any water loss (from sweat) that could lead to dehydration after each training run. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, decreased performance or even serious conditions, such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Calculate your water loss per mile
Everybody sweats (loses water) at a different rate, so the only way to determine your personal hydration needs is to calculate your water loss per mile. To do this, you’ll want to drink approximately 16 ounces of water and weigh yourself with minimal clothing one hour before your run. Once you’ve finished running, weigh yourself again to measure your total water loss. Divide this by the number of miles you ran to figure out how much water you lose on average per mile. This will help you determine how much water you’ll need to consume over the course of your race to stay hydrated, avoid dehydration and maintain optimal performance.

Practice drinking water on the run
If you are running longer distances, such as a 10K, half-marathon or full-marathon, you’ll want to practice taking water from hydration stations during your training. Not only will this help you maintain your pace as you swing by water stations, you’ll be able to gauge how much water your body needs and use water stations toward your advantage on race day. If you’re worried about not getting enough water while running through a water station, it’s ok to walk and take water. This could be the break you need to get through those late miles.

Have a post-run recovery drink
As with any race, recovery stations are a critically important part of our events. That’s why we enlist the help of our friends at Absopure each year to provide us with more than 20,000 bottles of water we can hand out to runners at our finish lines. When you’re training, make recovery a priority after each run. Try to drink 16-24 ounces of water per pound of body weight lost after exercise. This will help you replace water loss and prevent dehydration from setting in.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition when it comes to preparing for the big race.

What are your race day preparation tips? Tell us in our comment section, and we may feature your answers in a future post!

This is a guest post from GO! St. Louis. Absopure is the official water sponsor of all GO! St. Louis races.

About GO! St. LouisFormed in 2000, GO! St. Louis is a local non-profit organization that encourages individuals and families in the St. Louis region to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle year round. The organization accomplishes this through community collaborations, school based programming and the creation of new and fun fitness events. Currently, the organization hosts four fitness events throughout the year, with its largest event, the GO! St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend boasting more than 10 events for individuals of all ages and abilities.