One of the key moments during races, especially if they are short and fast and you don’t want to waste too much time, is to go to the refreshment posts to take the bottle of water or isotonic drink (depending on what the organization offers us) and hydrate ourselves so that we can continue running safely.
Many runners make mistakes at this crucial moment: mistakes that can endanger themselves and others. That’s why today we review the most frequent mistakes runners make when drinking water during races and how we can improve them to avoid risky situations and to reach the finish line properly hydrated.
Don’t skip any refreshments
One of the typical mistakes, especially in beginner runners who started racing relatively recently, is to systematically skip the refreshment posts. “It’s all right, it’s only ten kilometers, “I’m overwhelmed by people”, “I’ll take the bottle the next time”… these are some of the phrases most heard by novice riders.
It is important that we stay hydrated throughout the race to be able to perform at maximum and to avoid possible situations of dehydration, so you should not skip any liquid refreshment. If you don’t want to drink just when you find it, take the bottle and take it with you (it doesn’t weigh much or get in the way, you can take it in your half empty hand) and go taking small sips until you reach the next refreshment station, if there is one.
Be careful when you get to the hydration stations.
Another classic of racing is zig-zagging in a hurry and without looking who’s coming from behind or who’s passing by to get to the liquid refreshment posts: this is where there can be a dangerous situation if we don’t move carefully, as we can be “swept” by other runners or take one ahead in our frantic race to the bottles.
In most races, the hydration stations are located on both sides of the course precisely to avoid this type of zigzagging: it is always best to inform us before starting to run. If we know in which kilometre the hydration stations will be located, we can place ourselves to one side a few metres before to avoid disturbing the other runners.
In any case, the refreshment posts are usually quite long so it is not necessary to sprint out just to see where they start: if you have not positioned yourself on the right side of the route or if you are going through the center, take it easy to get to the side and always look back before starting to turn.
Do I stand or drink while I keep running?
Another of the big questions in the water supply of a race is to decide if you continue drinking in progress or if you stop to drink quietly. This depends a lot on each person and how they are at the time of arriving at the refreshment, but the normal thing is to take the bottle and keep running while you take small sips.
If you’re going to stop at the refreshment station, don’t do it in the middle of the refreshment station, as you risk being run over by other runners when they pick up their bottle to keep running and take you ahead. Better stay at the beginning or go to the end of the refreshment, step aside and stop there to drink, without disturbing the other runners.