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October 6, 2015

Important Hydration Tips from the Detroit Free Press Marathon Fluids Director

This is a guest blog post from Mary Dorazio, fluids director for the Detroit Free Press Marathon. Absopure is the official bottled water of the Detroit Free Press Marathon.

The Detroit Free Press Marathon is right around the corner! More than 27,000 runners are wrapping up their training and getting ready to travel – some near, some far – to the Motor City for this spectacular annual event.

But while many runners’ focus is getting their body in peak marathon-running condition, a surprising few are planning out one of the most important aspects of competitive running – hydration.

As a competitive runner for more than 30 years – and now as fluids director for the Detroit Marathon – I have seen firsthand how improper hydration during marathons can exact potentially debilitating tolls, no matter what physical condition you’re in.

So to help you properly hydrate for the Detroit Marathon, here are a few important hydration tips you should be aware of come race day.

Hydrating Before The Race
In 2014, the DMC recommended runners stop drinking 45 minutes before a race.

However, every body is different. If you already have an established, tried-and-true pre-marathon hydration technique, it may be more effective for you. But if you’re new to marathon running or didn’t do as well as you hoped in your last marathon, experimenting with different hydration methods is important in the long-run (no pun intended).

Personally, I stop two hours beforehand, and then drink 8-16 oz. (depending on how hot the weather is) of water around 30 minutes before the starting pistol. In the many years I have implemented my technique, I have never once had to stop during the race to urinate.

At the Detroit Marathon, we have Absopure water stations available at the start line so runners can get their 8-16 oz. in if they so choose.

Hydrating During The Race
When organizing the fluids for the Detroit Marathon we assume that, at each of the 18 Absopure water stations available throughout the race, each runner will drink 5 oz. of water. But there are definitely points during the race where more water is consumed than others.

For instance, the first hydration station is 1.5 miles from the start line. People naturally don’t drink as much at the start of the race, so we only stock that station with half the usual water supply.

The Detroit Marathon also takes you through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel about halfway through the race. Keep in mind that since it’s an insulated tunnel, it gets considerably hotter while running through, prompting more people to want to drink. In 2014, the hydration station right outside the tunnel used 93% of its water supply. To put that in perspective, the next station a mile and a half past the tunnel only used 79% of its supply.

The middle/middle-end of the race is the point of the race which people have a natural tendency to drink. Therefore, there is a higher concentration of hydration stations at that point in the marathon.

And the very last hydration station – which is about a mile before the finish line – sees fewer people taking drinks. This is because, when running, it takes about 15 minutes for the water to take effect in your body – so there is no point in drinking (and adding weight to yourself) before the final stretch.

The Role of Temperature On Race Day
The temperature plays a significant role in marathons. When the weather is hot, people underestimate how much water they need, and end up getting dehydrated. Additionally, some people drink too much water, and experience something called hyponatremia – which carries significant health risks of its own.

Detroit, however, is lucky to always have beautiful running weather each year in October.

For the Detroit Free Press Marathon, race mornings usually start around 32-40 degrees. When the last wave of people is crossing the finish line in the afternoon, seldom does the temperature ever exceed 65 degrees.

Obviously, in years when the temperature has raised to 54-60 by 11 am, I’ll see more water gone than in years when it’s colder.

Biggest Takeaway
The biggest hydration mistake runners can make is to not drink enough water – it’s very easy for people not to drink while they’re running, since they’re “in the zone”. It’s extremely important that you plan your hydration in advance, stay aware of that plan during the marathon, and drink what you need; rather than simply drink when you’re thirsty.

Follow these hydration tips, and you’ll be on your way to running a fantastic Detroit Marathon!

Have you participated in the Detroit Free Press Marathon before? What marathon training and hydration tips would you add to the list? Share your advice in the comments below.

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