Feb 8th


Drink it Up!

Aloha you gazelle-limbed beauties!

So, go on then - who went for a run in the snow over the weekend? My Twitter feed seemed to be full of runners debating whether or not they should go out in it. I managed my 10 miles. I had a great training week and didn't want to miss a run when I felt like I was on a roll. I actually enjoy running in the snow - sure, you've gotta be careful and you won't be doing Radcliffe-pace, but it's nice to get out in it and as you're running on a different surface, it makes your legs work a little harder.

Anyhoo, today I thought I'd touch on a topic that is difficult ground for a lot of runners to navigate: hydration.

This is one of those things that effects everyone differently, but as a hard and fast rule, you need to keep yourself watered! Now is the time you really have to think of your body as a machine. If it isn't fuelled right, it isn't going to run, plain and simple. Dehydration can really affect your performance. It's hard to get the balance right.

There are very scientific theories about all this and I've gotta be honest, the majority of them go over my head. I don't want to have to take my body weight, divide it by the number of gigawatts of energy burned and multiply it by the number of birds in the sky or some nonsense. My formula is pretty basic: how does my body feel + common sense.

So, I try to drink at least 1.5L of water a day anyway but my fluid intake is really important on run days. I make sure I've had at least 500ml a couple of hours before I run and try to stop drinking at least 20-30 minutes before heading out (the last thing I want is to be caught short on a run - we all want to avoid the dreaded 'Paula' moment).

On my shorter runs of 3-6 miles, I don't tend to hydrate while I run. I don't find my body needs it. But any run where I'm out for over an hour, I take a drink. For those of you training for half marathon and marathon distances right now, it's important to know that when doing serious mileage, water just ain't gonna cut it after a certain point. Find an isotonic (sports) drink you like (I favour the blue Powerade) and start training with it. It's better to hydrate with a sports drink when you're doing longer mileage because they contain sugar and carbs (which you're burning through) and sodium (which you're sweating out) that need to be replaced. A sports drink will do more for your energy level and keep you going than straight water will.

Hydrating during a race

Sometimes with all the excitement of race day we can forget what actually works for us during training. When I did the Paris Half Marathon last year, I saw tons of people drinking water while we were waiting in the starting pens. Needless to say, as soon as the gun went off, most of the guys peeled off to the side of the road to pee and a lot of the ladies were practically cross-legged. Personally, I try to get myself good and hydrated before setting off for the race to avoid this.

There are usually drinks stations set up every 2-3 miles on half mara and marathon races. Oftentimes when people see the first drinks station three miles in, they panic and make a beeline for it straight away. If you're going for a time and know that you can make it at least another couple of miles without a drink, you don't need to stop at that first station. People tend to think they should do it 'just in case' but trust in your training. If you know you're able to run for 45 mins - an hour without taking a drink, you won't need to on race day either.

If you are taking a drink from the drink station, be aware of the signs leading up to it, maneouver yourself to that side of the road, make eye contact with the person you want to get a drink from, point at them if necessary, then take the drink. Sounds silly but those drinks stations can be utter mayhem at times. It's also better to not go for the front as everyone tends to stop there - keep running to the end of the station and get one from there, it'll be easier.

That's it for this week's newsletter. Til next week, have a read of my very first race experience to get you in the mood.

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