5 essential tips to keep you hydrated Helping you maintain your athletic performance

Male drinking water after runningDehydration can be a common concern for marathon runners. Running 26.2 miles can take a lot out of you. Every bead of sweat, every hard breath and every mile you’re running takes moisture out of your system.

Given that your body is mostly made up of water, it’s easy to see why staying hydrated is important. It helps to maintain peak performance and we want to ensure that we see all of our amazing runners at the finish line.

RG Active share their top tips that'll help you to look after yourself and stay hydrated in the lead up to race day.

What is dehydration?

RG Active explain that, for marathon runners, dehydration occurs mainly from sweating. As you start running and your working muscles click into gear the body’s temperature rises.

Sweat is the body’s way of maintaining your body at its core temperature. It also drains you of much-needed water. If you don’t keep hydrated, your blood thickens and your heart has to work harder to get oxygen-rich blood to those tired muscles.

This can make you tired, you’re breathing harder and every step takes more effort than the last.

Spotting the signs

There’s an easy, though slightly unpleasant, way to tell if you’re dehydrated.

Checking the colour of your urine can be a great indicator. If it’s clear and odourless, that means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark and smelly, then you’re more than likely dehydrated.

Other, more serious, symptoms include nausea, dizziness and fatigue. If you’re experiencing any of these during or after a run, then you should rehydrate with the right foods and liquids.

And if these symptoms persist, then you should consult your doctor.

Electrolyte drinks

Many runners find isotonic drinks an excellent method of in-race hydration. The reason they’re so popular is that they contain vital ingredients called electrolytes.

These are essential minerals responsible for many process in the body including mental and muscle function.

When we sweat, we lose electrolytes along with water. If we start to lose too much it affects our performance. So it's important that when we take in fluid we consider electrolytes too. Isotonic sports drink contain electrolytes in the same balance as the body to improve absorption.

So you could consider isotonic drinks, particularly if it's a hot, sweaty day, to maintain performance. Just make sure you try them beforehand. Race day is NOT the time to experiment with your nutrition!

Simple steps to stay hydrated

Water bottle illustrationRG Active recommend the ‘little and often’ approach to hydration during marathon running and training.

Follow these top tips to make sure you're looking after yourself:

    • Get into the habit
      Setting an alarm to remind you to take regular intakes of water, can make a big difference and help you get into the habit of drinking regularly.

    • Sip, don’t swig
      If you wait until you’re really thirsty and then gulp down as much water as you possibly can, then you’ll cause yourself great discomfort. Drink small amounts at regular intervals.

    • Stay cool
      Cold drinks lower body temperature, which means you’re sweating less during exertion.

    • Try before you buy
      We’re all different in terms of our palate and digestion. If you’re going to use energy drinks, gels or bars then do so during your training runs. You don’t want to find out on race day that something doesn’t agree with you.

    • Prepare for race day
      Use your last few weeks of training to prepare your body clock for race day. Consume food and water as you would on the day itself so you can find the balance that suits you.

Helping you on your journey

More articles

Read our other training articles to help you get prepared in the lead up to race day.

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