How To Manage Hydration On Race Day

Hydration Tips For Marathoners

Tackling Hydration During Races

One of the most challenging aspects of long-distance races, especially under hotter conditions, is managing your fluid intake. It doesn't matter how fit you are or how smartly you pace yourself - your body simply can't perform if it's lacking fluids.  

Research shows that performance in endurance events, like running, is reduced as people become dehydrated. Just a 2% loss of body weight has an impact on performance. Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include headache, dry mouth, feeling light headed or dizzy, and feeling thirsty.

How Much Fluid Do Runners Need

The International Marathon Medical Directors Association has suggested that during a marathon runners should drink about 400-800 ml of fluid per hour, with the upper level being in warmer environments for faster and heavier runners.

Water alone isn't enough. During marathons and long distance events, athletes also need to replenish the electrolytes (trace minerals) that are lost due to perspiration, and consume a calorie source for fuel.

Carry A Hydration Bottle During Long Or Humid Runs

Boston Marathon qualifier and Ironman athlete, Sara Randolph found that adding a few sprays of a broad-based electrolyte concentration in her hydration pack kept her hydrated. She said, "I would grab some water from the aid station...and add the (electrolyte) spray after I cleared the congestion of the aid station. It worked great!"  

During the Los Angeles Marathon, Sara encountered hot, humid conditions on the course. She said, "I saw many runners cramping throughout the race, but I had no problems during or after the race at all. The electrolyte bottle was easy to carry in my fuel belt pouch and easy to squirt into the water bottles while running." 

Beware Of The Water (Sugar) Stations 

Water Stations Offer Sugary Drink Alternatives

Most courses have a sponsored product for hydration at the regular water stations along the course. But beware if consuming high amounts of these products during long races. Your digestive system can’t process all that sugar efficiently, which may lead to cramps and side stitches. Coach Jeff Gaudette, former professional marathon runner and founder of Runners Connect, says "When ingesting a gel/gummy/bar make sure you always take it with water, not Gatorade". Both Gatorade and GU’s contain high amounts of simple sugars. Combining the two at the same time means you may be ingesting too much simple sugar at once. 

For marathon runners, and other endurance athletes, there are healthier and better alternatives to sugary sports drinks.  

To learn more about hydration replacement alternatives visit