To carry a water bottle or not?
I get this question a lot and here are my thoughts on the matter.
I think if you are going to be out there between 2 to 5 hours for a marathon or longer endurance event, like the majority of you will be, then yes, I would get familiar with wearing some sort of water/fuel belt. Think of it logically; if you average running a 10-11 min/mi and water/sport drink stations are every 2 miles, then you have 20-22 minutes between each stop.
Drink When Your Thirsty
I’m not saying you need to hit every water/fluid station on the course; actually, the most recent research regarding how much fluid to intake is based on a multitude of factors: your weight, the amount of sweat you lose during physical exertion, temperature on race day, how many carbs you are taking in during the race, your level of experience racing, and the distance of the race. Plus, it is also believed (I tend to follow this medical philosophy as well) that one should simply hydrate when he/she is thirsty – wild concept, huh?
Your body is an amazing instrument, and it will tell you if you need to drink, eat, sleep, etc. So although in the past it was thought to “pre-hydrate” before you felt thirsty, this has found not to be the best approach according to medical professionals. Drinking when you don’t need to drink can cause stomach cramps and in severe cases hyponatremia.
Let’s Not Dehydrate
But on the flip-side of hyponatremia is dehydration, and this is not a good place to be either. So, using the example of taking 20-22 minutes between aid stations, if you feel great at an aid station and decide to pass through, but then 5 minutes later you feel thirsty, you now have 15-17 minutes until you can put some fluids back in your body. This is not a good place to be. But, if you are carrying fluids, then you can simply take a swig of water/drink and continue on your merry way.
So, take the next few weeks or months and figure out what is the best apparatus for you to carry your fluids in. Practice with the apparatus and you’re body will get use to it – promise.