Water / food station: Don’t skip a single one

September 10, 2009

eau“To run a good marathon, those “water/food” stations are essential from the first kilometers. Don’t wait to be hungry or thirsty, it will be too late”

Whatever your goal is, make sure to stop at each station (even the first one even if you do not feel the need). Slow down or stop for a few seconds to drink a full glass of your preferred drink – especially if it is hot (half a glass will be fine if the weather is cool).
This will take you between 30 and 45 seconds so take advantage of this break to relax your body before you start running again slowly. Don’t worry about trying to catch up the others that may have passed you – you will most likely catch them later down the course when they “hit the wall”.
Drinking and taking efficient breaks allows you to better recover and maintain a more sustained pace (average speed) in between each stations during the race. What may seem to be a few minutes “lost” will actually become a few more minutes “saved”.

Take the weather temperature into consideration:
Temperature affects greatly your performance. An undulating course will be easier to run by 10 degrees than a flat course by over 20 degrees. If you are aiming for a Personal Best (PB), it is always best to pick up carefully your race based on both the location and the season. For example avoid choosing a marathon course in Greece in august that starts from 3pm (do not worry, it does not exist).

For a competitive athlete who runs 42km in around 2h30m, each degree over 15 will add 1extra minute to its final time. The loss of time is obviously more important for an average runner. A hot and humid temperature is a much higher handicap than a hot and dry weather. For those reasons, best to choose marathons around spring or autumn time where the temperature is milder.

If it’s hot, remember to keep your hair wet, it is the best way to reduce the heat. However be careful if the weather is cool and if some parts of the course are shadowed or windy. For some people, the cold can generate strong stomach cramps.
Always avoid dropping water on your shoes. Not only your shoes will be heavier to carry but also it will make it easier for you to get blisters.
Whatever the weather is like you must drink between 1/8th and 1/4th of a liter at each water stops


Don’t skip the first water stop:
The assimilation of the water into your body doesn’t happen instantly – it will take about 30 minutes to be processed in your system. If you start drinking too late, your organism (disturbed by the effort) will have a hard time to properly absurd the drink and accelerate the dehydration of your body. The only aid station you may skip eventually is the last one on the 40km mark because the water you take is not going to be used within the following 2km.

Don’t take salt tablets:
Because it can accelerate the dehydration of your body. Taking salt can make sense for longer races when the weather is hot and the food provided lacks salt – but NOT for a marathon.

Despite doping, nothing can make you run faster than your actual level. However, small mistakes can easily make you lose time (like drinking too much coffee the morning of the race). Caffeine taken with excess is diuretic and makes you lose water when you urinate. Drinking too much coffee will make you urinate clear but your body will not be properly hydrated. Drinking a cup of coffee an hour before the race will be just fine.

How much water?
Physiologists explain that the loss of 5%of your body weight (1.3liter for 65kgs) will decrease your potential by 20%. it is therefore crucial to compensate any loss of water due to sweat with drinking water.
Drinking between 1.5 and 2 liters of water is a minimum during the preparation of your marathon.


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