There is an art to it, believe it or not
For seasoned runners out there, you have a good idea of what to do. However, there’s lot of newbie runners who don’t have that experience.
On the face of it, the answer to the article’s question is obvious – just grab the water and continue running.
It’s actually not as simple as that though and more thought is needed to make sure your stops for hydration during a marathon are seamless and don’t affect your running.
Here’s my top five tips to make sure you become a pro at the stops.
1) Plan ahead
Each and every race will tell you in advance where the hydration stops are so you can plan accordingly and know when to stop.
That said, just because you see a drinks stop, it doesn’t mean you have to stop – especially if it’s the first one. Manage how much water you think you’ll need, don’t over drink or fail to hydrate enough. It’s a difficult balance and of course experience can help further down the track, but there is no substitute to preparation.
2) Pay attention
Water pit-stops can become dangerous, particularly during the latter stages of a marathon when runners start to tire mentally and fatigue sets in. Often, people can cut across straight in front of you at a drinks stop, causing unsavoury collisions and lots of leg tangling (a runner took me out in Barcelona, I remember it vividly). Stay switched on during your approach to a station and know what and who is around you.
For the most part, volunteers (and they do a great job) will be handing out the drinks so try and make eye contact with them when you are getting close to the station and acknowledge that you want to grab a cup off of them so that they can get ready.
It’s important to slow down slightly, stay balanced and lean out with one arm ready to take the cup. For slower runners out there, there is no shame in coming to a complete halt, but remember to stay clear of the other, quicker runners.
In general, the stops tend to be on the right-hand side, or sometimes both for the bigger races.
3) Take your time to drink
There’s no point in guzzling fluid down all in one sitting, take a few sips and use energy offerings sparsely and when you really need them. A useful tip for drinking is squeezing the cup into a V shape, making it easier to consume fluid and helping to avoid less spillages.
*It’s worth noting that if you feel overheated, dump a water over your head to cool down.
4) Help other runners out
Some events opt for full bottles of water instead of cups, which is way more than you need at a stop. So, if you have a bottle, keep hold of it and offer the water to other runners once the water station has passed. That gives anyone who missed the opportunity to drink, the chance to do so. Running with others and some fun camaraderie can really benefit your overall experience.
5) Be careful when discarding water
Most races will have bins to deposit water stop cups and bottles and it’s also fine to throw down your cup or bottle. However, be wary of other runners around you and try to drop it down naturally beside you instead of throwing it dangerously to one side and into another runner’s path.
P.s. say thank you to every volunteer you come across!