Race Day Hydration

Hydration Guide for Runners | Fleet Feet

If you’re traveling to a race, staying hydrated becomes even more important. According to an article by Damir Zubac, evidence shows that long flights cause fluids to shift to the lower extremities, changing blood viscosity and resulting in dehydration. This can compromise an athlete’s potential for success when they arrive at their destination. There are certain steps you can take to minimize the effects of flying so you feel fresh and ready on race day:

Bring your own reusable water bottle.

A group of runners drink from their water bottles.

… And make it a big one. Fill it as soon as you get through security and make an effort to drink throughout your flight. When flight attendants come around with the beverage and snack service, they will gladly refill your bottle, too. This is a good time for seconds, which leads us to number two.

Drink more water than you think you need.

Airplane air is dry and dehydrating, so you need more water than you think you do to maintain the same level of hydration. Think about how much you usually drink and try to double that. If you’re on a plane for more than ninety minutes, you will probably need to use the restroom.

Add flavors to your water instead of consuming soft drinks.

A woman mixes nuun into her water.

If you really can’t stand plain water, add herbs, fruit or electrolyte drink tablets to your reusable water bottle and then fill it with water before you board the plane. Consuming sugary and caffeinated drinks counters your hydration efforts. If it’s bubbly you’re after, opt for a glass of seltzer (in addition to your bottled water).

Avoid alcohol.

Like caffeine and sugar, alcohol is a diuretic. Plus, drinking in the air might make you feel even worse later. Save the booze for post-race celebration, or during your travels home. If cracking open a cold one is part of your nightly routine, check out non-alcoholic options like Athletic Brewing Company.

Prepare a race strategy.

A woman carries a handheld water bottle during a race.

Once race day arrives, you’ll need to have a hydration plan ready. For shorter distances, like a 5k, carrying water may not be as important. Your hydration plan might be to slowly consume fluids throughout the morning until you get to the starting line. For longer distances, like a half or full marathon, you’ll need to drink some fluids throughout the race. Most races will have water stops throughout the course, but some runners prefer to carry their own bottles just in case. You can also bring a water bottle with your choice of electrolytes in it, like Skratch or Nuun.