Essential Race Day Hydration Information
What should you drink on race day?
Deciding what to drink need not be a guessing game. There are some straight forward ways to be prepared for a race, maintain hydration through it and to help you recover quickly afterwards. Dehydration limits your performance potential so be sure to get it right.
In the build-up to the event
- Be hydrated in your training and in the build-up to race day. Aim to drink 2 litres of water each day. But a more accurate guide of how much fluid you should be drinking is 30-35ml (preferably of water) each day for each kilo you weigh. (So 80kg means 80 x 35ml = 2400ml to 2800ml = 2.4l to 2.8l)
- Find out how much you sweat/lose through breathing when training. This is easier than you think. Weigh in before training and afterwards. Each kilo lost is half a litre of water you have shifted.
- Replace any fluid you lose using the calculation above.
- Get used to drinking on the go. If you can drink a little and often as you train this will keep your hydration and therefore performance level up.
- If you are going to be competing in an event of more than 30min then try using an energy drink such as Lucozade, Powerade or Gatorade. Use it in the weeks building up to the event so you are used to it.
On race day before you race
- Pack water. Don’t rely on chasing around for water on route or when you get there. Take what you will need so you know you have it.
- Stay hydrated. This may mean allowing time for toilet stops in you journey to the event.
- Remember how much you need to drink. Don’t ‘panic drink’ so you are in constant need of the loo. Remember your calculations you have already made and stick to these.
- Drink a little and often. Nerves may make absorption a little less easy than usual so smaller more regular drinking is better. (You should be used to drinking this way from your build up)
- Consider using an energy drink. It can boost your energy levels more easily close to the event than eating. Look for a drink with around 8g of carbohydrate per 100ml of fluid
On race day during the event
- In races of less than 30min it will not usually be necessary to drink.
- In longer races stay hydrated. Remember it takes around 15min for water you drink to get into your system so start drinking early on. As always make it a little and often
- Bear in mind how much water you are likely to need. You should have an idea of how much you need to drink from your race build up. Don’t go over the top.
- In longer events – half marathon or more – consider drinking an energy drink Make sure that if you are going to do this you have got your digestive system and taste buds used to the drink you’ll be using during training. A stitch is the last thing you want.
- Some people find a half empty bottle is easier to drink from than a full one while running. So don’t be afraid to pour some away as you pick up from a drink station.
- It can help to hold the water in your mouth before swallowing. Gulping down air with the fluid can lead to a stitch.
- If you have not done the ‘weigh yourself before and after training’ test you can use the approximate amount of 150ml for each 15min of exercise.
- In hot weather it may be worth pouring water over yourself to aid cooling but beware of chaffing, particularly if you are a not wearing breathable/wicking fabrics
After the event
- Replace any fluids you have lost. Don’t forget to keep drinking. This will speed your recovery.
- Remember that energy drinks as well as snacks can be used to replace lost energy.
- Remember the 1 kilo = 1 litre rule. Drink enough fluid to replace what you have lost.
There have been reports about people ‘over-hydrating’. This problem, called hyponatremia, and is caused by drinking too much. If sodium has not been replaced it means that too much water being drunk leads to blood sodium levels falling dangerously low. Following the points above should help you stay hydrated while avoiding this problem.