Runner Type 1 I once met a guy during a marathon who made it a goal to not stop and drink at any of the water stops the entire 26.2 miles. I've also met a few runners who have told me in a marathon they may only stop 2-3 times the entire race to take a drink.
Runner Type 2 I have seen runners who are stopping to drink water every single mile during a marathon. And others who carry hydration packs and fill them at water stops so they can sip on their own drink in-between each of those water stops between the mile markers.
Let's test your knowledge.
Whom of those two types of runners listed above are at greater risk of death or other serious problems?
If your an experienced runner, you probably already know the answer. But if you are newer to distance running let me tell you.
It's the runners who stop at every water stop or who carry hydration packs and sip on them between water stops then also drinks at the stops who are far more likely to have health issues and risk death during a race.
FACT: Did you know there is actually no known case of a runner in a US marathon ever dying due to dehydration in a race? BUT there are several cases where runners have died from over-hydration during a marathon. (Hyponatremia is the official term for over-hydration.)
Yup, in fact, more runners will over-hydrate in a marathon than under-hydrate and that is even in the hot races.
For this reason and the fact that many runners aren't using their marathon training schedules to learn how to hydrate properly. There is a push from the Road Race Medical Community for races to begin to decrease the number of aid stations, to ONE every 2-3 miles along a race course. Since some runners can't teach themselves to drink correctly, having the water spaced out more correctly on a course can help teach them and help them out so they will have less chance of hurting themselves.
I personally think this is very wise, and I give a lot of props to the races whom have already conformed over to this.
Many think marathon training means getting in shape and learning to stay on your feet for 26.2 miles. Which is correct.
However, so much more should be put into your training.
One of those is learning how to hydrate properly and learning to teach yourself not to over drink. While it can be dangerous to become severely dehydrated. The risks apparently are far higher to start getting into over-hydration drinking habits in races and even in training.
A few interesting facts I learned while researching for this post:
* Studies have shown runners who are losing 1.5%-3% of their body weight during a race from dehydration have actually performed better in a race, than those who over-hydrate.
(In case your wondering, 1%-2% body weight loss they found was a fairly decent average for most runners in a marathon by the end.)
* Some marathon runners will finish a marathon weighing more than they did when they started the race, purely because they are over-hydrating. This is extremely dangerous for some and those doing it probably don't even know how big the risks are!
* Always start a race fully hydrated, especially an endurance race.
If you do, hydrate properly you should never need to stop at a water stop in a 5K or shorter races around that distance. On a side note, not stopping to drink in shorter races can improve performance and your race times. As well as drinking correctly and not over-hydrating can improve performance in a marathon as well.
* 3-4 miles is the perfect distance between water stops even in hotter temperatures. However, you may find in winter or colder months you can easily go a few miles further between stops.
If you are currently training to drink more frequently already, you can easily begin work on correcting this in your marathon training plans.
* Getting headaches after you run, or feeling lightheaded or dizzy towards the end of a run or in the hours following a run are possible signs your not hydrating enough. Additionally, if you find you are cramping up far too often in a run or after may also be signs you are not hydrating properly.
* Urine test. As a runner you should aim to have your urine looking like the color of lemonade. If it's too dark, your under hydrated for your daily training. If it's too clear, you may be over hydrating daily.
* Don't get into the, I'll drink a gallon of water a day fad. For most people, that could be way too much. While the 8 glasses or 8 oz. water a day is a pretty steady rule for most, even that rule of thought is outdated info. (FYI: 8 glasses at 8 oz. is only about half a liter.)
Want to know how much you really need? Take your total weight and then divide it by 2.
The answer you get, is how many ounces you should be drinking each day. (For your normal hydration purposes - See below to add your water for workout purposes.)
* If you work out, you obviously need more water than on days you don't. While most people can tell based on signs and thirst factor, not everyone is intuitive with their bodies actual needs. For those who fit this, you can use the sweat rate test.
Weigh yourself before you go out for a (1 hour is a good one) training run, then when you return weigh yourself again. For each pound lost, example 1 pound means you should drink about 1 pint of water to recover from your sweat rate.
Granted this test isn't fool proof. Weather, temp, speed and distance may each play a role in this test, so you may need to adjust for different circumstances.
* You can't hydrate properly for a long run or a marathon in a day or two leading up to a race. In fact, leaving it to last minute won't help you much at all.
You should be fully hydrated 8-10 days leading up to any long run or marathon.
* If you are training for a marathon, especially when you get to the longer runs and months leading towards the race. It's best to cut out all alcohol consumption, as drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration.
* MARATHON DAY TIP If running a marathon, drink your morning water 2 hours before the race start, and try not to sip on anything while waiting for the race to start. Some runners find doing this, and a quick swallow or two of water just before the gun goes off reduces the need to stop at one of those not so lovely port-o-potties during the race.
(FYI: This is what I learned to do, and it works amazingly, I rarely ever have to stop and use a bathroom along the course!)
* To keep you from getting too scared, One thing to note is, about 99% of the time most marathoners who finish a race are slightly dehydrated or slightly over-hydrated and they are perfectly fine and it is completely normal.
How do you know if your drinking too much water in a race?
* If you find you are stopping to have to pee often in a race.
* If you are stopping at every single water stop at a race that offers them each mile and you are drinking more than 2-3 oz. each stop.
* If you finish a run and are weighting more than you did when you started the race/training run.
Informative resources I used as a guide for this post:
(Disclaimer, I was not asked by any of these news sites to promote their material. I purely used them as educational resources.) http://www.wsj.com/articles/ease-up-on-the-water-during-that-marathon-1424715632
Did you learn anything today?
If you train for marathons. Do you find you drink too much, or too little or just about right when you race?
Do you make sure to practice hydration training along with any race training?
Disclaimer: I wrote this based on research and my own opinion. I am not a doctor or trainer and information in my posts should only be taken as my opinion not be taken as advice. If you have further questions on this subject, I recommend asking your doctor or a skilled nutritionist/trainer on the subject.