How much water do you really need?


This article in Women’s Running mag caught my eye. One of Dan’s best friends John, ran Edinburgh marathon last weekend with the aim of completing his first marathon in 3h 30m. I checked his splits online while we were away last weekend to discover his half marathon split came in at 1h 47m 47s. Just about on target for a 3h 30m finish…so imagine my surprise when his finishing time was 4h 54m 12s! What had gone wrong?…

…He had missed a water station and ended up collapsed on the side of the road, waking up in the recovery position with some paramedics by his side.  After an hour on the floor and being told he wasn’t to finish the final three miles he finally convinced the paramedics that he had now taken on board enough fluids to complete the race and came in within the five hour mark.  I imagine this would be a terrifying experience.  At Milton Keynes marathon at the start of the month I passed several of the more ‘elite’ runners on the side of the road sporting oxygen masks and looking deathly pale.  Just when do you stop pushing?  Most of the people I passed on the side of the road were men.  Are women better at judging when to back off a bit?  Do men just tend to be too stubborn?

Today I will be mostly…watching the weather forecast for tomorrow.  It is currently not looking good, despite it currently being overcast with a breeze, this is what it predicts tomorrow will be like…

SnSweatherHot, sunny and gradually increasing in temperature throughout the day.  Not my favourite running weather, especially not to tackle 35 miles in!  Fingers crossed for a freak cold patch tomorrow!

8 thoughts on “How much water do you really need?

  1. There have been some interesting training talks on this on marathon talk- not sure if you can find them on the audio archive. I think people need to consume salts with their water- I am sure there used to be a rule with competitive marathon running that there was only one water stop (or maybe none?)- and they say that on hot days more people end up with hyponutremia (not sure how to spell it, but when you have too much water and not enough electrolytes) because people tend to over drink.
    I think you have to know yourself- I know I am bad in the heat and sweat loads- I will often finish a summer run with a film of salt all over my face, and the one thing that helps me is using those nuun tabs in my water while I run (or on shorter runs having one when I get home)- water on its own is not good when you are sweating out water and all sorts of other things. One of the marathon talk ideas was to have less water stations on hot days because people tend to drink too much when they see the water stations. We are all different after all, and lots of things affect runners (not enough fuel, a busy week, coming down with a cold etc) so I think to blame the lack of water is not always correct.
    Hope the weather is good for your run :) I hope you enjoy it!
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Lemon drizzle cake with lavenderMy Profile

    1. I’m still getting through my Marathon Talk podcasts after my addiction started the other week! Nearly up to double figures of the episodes now!
      I also finish runs in Summer with salt covering every part of my skin. I’ve never tried the nuun tablets, but always try and eat something salty afterwards if I’ve been out on a short run and try and drink at least every other drink as a sports drink on longer runs.
      I think having less water stations would be a big problem…if you miss one it’s often a very long way to go to the next one. Often, when it’s hot, I drink some from each water station, but pour the rest of the bottle over my head to help stop me from overheating.
      I guess it does mainly come from experience and knowing your own body. At Write This Run we were told to weigh ourselves before and after a run to see how much weight we’d lost and this would dictate how much fluid we should take back on board during/after a run of that distance. But no two runs are exactly the same, and I prefer to go on how I feel and knowing my body.

      1. Also you don’t just lose fluid- you burn fat for energy, use carbs etc- some of that fluid you would lose if you were just sitting on the sofa….
        I am not sure, but in the podcast I heard they said more illness was caused by people over drinking plain water, than under drinking. I think replacing the salts are key, and not many people do that until after, so then if they drink loads they just dilute their salts even more.

        I know wikipedia has its issues, but this is from the marathon page : “Overconsumption is the most significant concern associated with water consumption during marathons. Drinking excessive amounts of fluid during a race can lead to dilution of sodium in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia, which may result in vomiting, seizures, coma and even death.[118] Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, medical director for the New York City Marathon, has stated, “There are no reported cases of dehydration causing death in the history of world running, but there are plenty of cases of people dying of hyponatremia.”[119] Because hyponatremia is caused by excessive water retention, and not just loss of sodium, consumption of sports drinks or salty foods may not prevent hyponatremia.”

        I have done races where they have sponge stations with sponges in buckets, and also water being sprayed and that is lovely as you cool down (and wash some of the salt off!)- I think those sorts of things are better on hot days.
        But I agree everyone is different and you need to work out in training what works for you. :)
        Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Trying to rest!My Profile

        1. I heard on the radio a while back that over in America there had been a ‘who can drink the most water’ competition to try to win a prize on a radio station which resulted in the person that won dying from consuming too much water. It is definitely an incredibly dangerous issue and I’m not sure how many people are aware of replacing salts when drinking.
          I didn’t realise that there were no reported cases of death through dehydration when marathon running. That was a surprise. Why is it that they do not make more of a deal of drinking too much? Especially with the large amount of fun runners who are usually encouraged to take a drink from each water station.
          Mary recently posted…Some experimental runs and a British wedding!My Profile

  2. Scary stuff – I did Edinburgh last year and it was 28 degrees. I saw multiple people passed out on the side of the road, including one of the elite females. I was going for a 3:30 too funnily enough, but I was so, so scared of the heat (I feel the heat badly anyway) and I drank lots at every single drinks station. I had problems with my right leg too, so I slowed down a lot in the last for miles and ended up with a 3:36. It was either that or collapsing!

    Try not to worry too much about tomorrow – you did Milton Keynes and it was just as hot (if not hotter?) as tomorrow is meant to be. You’re sensible and I’m sure you’ll hydrate appropriately (I’m sure you know this, but it doesn’t matter much how much you drink before the race; it’s how much fluid you take on board during it that’s meant to make the most difference. Over-hydrating pre-race and then ignoring drinks stations is one of the biggest mistakes people make).


    1. Running in heat is not my favourite! I much prefer a windy rainy day! It is really scary when you pass people on the side of the road who have pushed it that little bit too far isn’t it? It makes you reassess how hard you can push yourself.
      I’m not sure how hot Sunday was in the end? It felt really hot whilst we were out there, almost as hot as at MK, but I guess part of that was how open the course was and how long we were out for.

    1. I think it’s very much about how you feel on the day. Even not at marathon distance, at anything above a 5k I find myself needing some H2O at some point!

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