Be prepared, stay hydrated 

With a rise in temperatures, I’m mindful that there are many out there with their first marathon, or other races coming up. I wrote a BLOG a few weeks ago about running a marathon. Today whilst engaging with people about RnR Liverpool marathon on Sunday I thought to myself “it’s going to be hot”.

One of the key tips about any run, and most certainly a first marathon, is to be prepared. That extends much further than just training right, and turning up on the day ready. You need to be aware of your surroundings, and adapt accordingly. This weekend will be hot, and there will be many hot races to come over the next few months. I always say the best way to run a marathon is to enjoy it, if you don’t prepare yourself for the increase in temperature there is a real risk that this won’t be the case.

So here are just a few, probably obvious, tips.

Stay hydrated – sounds obvious, but so many people don’t take into account the impact the hot weather will have. You will be sweating more than usual, and even if you don’t notice you need to take on more fluid. That is before during and after the event, water is your friend.

Don’t over hydrate – it is possible to overdo it. There is something that isn’t uncommon in endurance athletes called hyponatremia. Basically drinking too much water. This is more dangerous than being dehydrated.

Some say drink to thirst, I personally think you should probably do more than this. Sometimes you won’t feel thirsty, but you need to drink. But remember that you need to replace all the sodium you are losing, not just water. This comes from electrolytes: gels, sports drinks and other fuels. Don’t just drink water.

Drink little and often, and think about how you will do this. Take on fluid at every station, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drink it all. Will this be enough for you? Some may choose to run with a water bottle rather than discarding it. Or is the water provided in cups? For me this would give me cause to consider a hydration vest. You know what works best for you, but remember to drink little and often, and ensure you know when you are getting your next drink. Also make sure you are replacing the lost salt. This may mean more gels than normal. Don’t leave it too late.

If you stay hydrated, you will enjoy the race so much more. There is more than just keeping the fluids up. Think about what you are going to wear, and how this will effect your run. If it’s hot and sunny you may want to wear sunglasses, and you won’t catch me without my visor these days.

If I’m worried about the heat and cups I will wear my vest, glasses and visor. If I’m relaxed about it then just my visor, but you work out what is best for you, what will you be comfortable in?

Staying hydrated and keeping the sun out of your eyes is very important. But make sure you protect yourself from the sun. You will be out for a long time in the direct heat, you will burn if you aren’t protected. This won’t be a good look the day after, and certainly won’t help you running.

Finally, don’t overdo it. The heat will likely impact on your target time. It will be harder, so don’t beat yourself up over it. If you stay hydrated then of course you can still achieve your target time but you need to be realistic. When I ran Berlin in 2014 I was thrown by cups and not bottles. I was aiming for a sub 3 and couldn’t drink out of cups, so I ran past the aid stations. This led to me getting very dehydrated and when I got to the end I couldn’t hold down any fluid. Remember it’s just a run, look after yourself and come back for more, enjoy the run, then tell me all about it 👍

14 thoughts on “Be prepared, stay hydrated 

  1. Totally agree with all of the above, the need to stay hydrated is vital for distance running. I skipped a couple of aid stations doing a half marathon a few years back and almost passed out at the 10mile mark.
    Now I take on water at each station I come to, even if it is just a mouthful.
    When pacing I always advise those around me to do the same
    Gels are a godsend, for a marathon I would take two before the start about 20mins before the gun, and then 1 every 30mins or so.
    In the heat a cap, or like Paul, a visor is a must. The need to keep the sun off your head is vital
    And Sunblock is vital, sunburnt runners are nit a good look.
    Top advice from Paul as usual.


  2. Good article, mate. Personally I have run in a few hot places, South Africa, New Orleans, Florida, Barcelona, Athens. My rules for running in the heat are pretty simple. I wear a single layer, ideally a climacool vest, at the moment am wearing a New Balance Ice singlet. I wear an adidas climacool cap too. Waterwise, absolutely, do not over hydrate, as you will find yourself throwing up at the side of the road. I tend to drink little and often. Drink 300-400ml of liquid before the race, and then at each water stop I rinse with a mouthful than I spit out, drink a mouthful, two sometimes and then dump the rest of the cup/bottle over my head. When you do feel sick, SOS rehydrate in some water will help. Drink and walk. It will help. Don’t panic. It happens to the best runners.


    1. Thank you Darren, and great advice there too.

      The experience I had at Berlin involved me being dehydrated, and only time I’ve ever been sick through running. I tried downing a bottle of water as so thirsty and it came straight back up.

      Little and often, and don’t get in this position 👍


  3. Sadly people have no clue how much they are drinking on events and bottles dropped with water in them can trip runners behind. I would never not finish a bottle and never exceed a litre per hour no matter how hot. Drink it in stages and finish the bottle by the next water stop (assuming they are 3-4 miles apart). If people are being cooled with hoses or sponges use that. Same with gels – consume slowly – I start a gel about every four miles. (I should probably open one at the start or maybe that’s too early?). Cups are a pain you have to stop there’s no other way round it. I think I consumed 1.5 litres of water in the Milton Keynes half (not all bottles were the same size). Four bottles wasn’t enough!


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