Race Hydration & Nutrition: Don’t Be Running on E

Whether you’re running in the Two Cities Marathon or you’re simply competing against yourself for a new personal best, proper hydration and nutrition planning is key to optimal performance.

General Guideline for Hydration

There are certain all-encompassing running and hydration suggestions that apply to the general population, but everybody is unique. The current rule of thumb for hydrating during a race is that you drink to your thirst level. I believe that’s a good standard to adhere to as you begin your training, but as you progress, you should gradually tailor your liquid intake to your body’s individual needs.

For most leisure runners, plain water is fine, but for long, high-intensity runs in heavy clothing, you may want to consider adding sports drinks to the equation in order to replenish the sodium and electrolytes you excrete as you sweat. Experiment with your hydration regimen to figure out which combination works best for you during your training runs so that, come race day, your body can compete at its highest caliber.

General Guideline for Nutrition

In terms of nutrition, fueling during a race can be tricky, as sport gels and other products may lead to stomach issues and cramping, which can slow you down, or even sideline you, during a race. Just as with hydration, I’d recommend you try different fuel sources during your training so you know how your body will respond during a race.

The current fueling recommendation is that you consume about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. A few healthy options to consider include:

  • GU Energy gel pack – 20 gm
  • Mini pretzels (20) -25 gm
  • Nature Valley granola bar (2 per pack) – 29 gm
  • Jelly Belly Sport Beans (1 pack) – 25 gm

You should place special emphasis on nutrition whenever you’re exercising for more than one hour. If you’re just going for a 20-30 minute run, you can just focus on hydration.

Whatever your current plan is, I’d encourage you to experiment a bit before race day—both with hydration intervals as well as with nutrition/hydration combinations—to see how your body responds. Distance runners, whatever your winning combination of hydration and nutrition might be, don’t be running on E.

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