The art of drinking whilst racing

How many times have you approached a drinks station to miss out on being handed a cup or bottle, or to get all snarled up with other runners, or start tripping over discarded cups and bottles only to cover yourself in liquid when you try and take a swig, or swallow loads of air with every gulp?

I think it’s happened to all of us at some time.

Next time you race, and there are drinks stations, do a bit of planning.

  • Know where they’re going to be before you start the race. Eye them up as you approach and pick your line of attack; make eye contact with the person handing out the drink, even shout to them something like “HI!” so you get their attention.
  • If it’s a long drinks table you often find there’s more room at the far end so run towards there to be sure of getting a cup or bottle.

So what do you do once you’ve got it? Keep running? Jog on whilst drinking? Jog on the spot? Sit on a nearby bench? Well, it’s quite individual! Any of the above are OK as long as you’ve practised it and know that’s what you’re going to do.

  • If you jog on and you have a cup of drink then squeeze the top of the cup together to make it easier to drink and not get soaked.
  • Try filling your mouth with liquid but only swallow a little at a time, that way you’ll swallow less air.
  • If you stop and drink then at least keep your legs moving a bit otherwise your heart can suddenly get under-filled with blood because it’s become partly reliant on vascular return by means of the muscles squeezing!
  • Jog on the spot, yes, same rules as the cup squeezing for jogging on, slightly more likely to cover yourself in fluid but can have pleasant chat with the marshals.
  • Sit on a bench. Beware, you may not get up again.

How much to drink? Well you don’t want masses at once, about 200ml is good. So practise at home first. Measure out 200ml of water and see how many gulps it takes to get through it. 200ml every 20-25 mins is good then drink more to thirst if it’s hot or you feel the need.Remember if it’s more than about 90 mins you need isotonic drink or gels.

Marathon training, running and sports nutrition plans for everyone from beginner to elite.
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