How to stay hydrated during the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon
When people talk about hydration for the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, the focus is usually on how much they should drink during the marathon itself. While this is clearly an important area to focus on, Precision Hydration explains how you should approach hydration before, during and after your marathon…
How to start your marathon hydrated
Starting your marathon properly hydrated is crucial as it can help you have a larger reservoir of fluid to draw upon over time, which is handy because you’re generally going to be fighting a losing battle against fluid and electrolyte loss once you start sweating.
Starting well hydrated maximises your blood volume and helps general cardiovascular function, as well as aiding your ability to dissipate the heat produced by your working muscles. This is useful during a marathon because it reduces fatigue and enables you to maintain your performance for longer.
One of the most common errors we see athletes make before races is to drink lots of water in the build-up on race morning. Drinking lots of plain water can dilute your body’s sodium levels before you even start, increasing the risk of a dangerous condition called hyponatremia. At best you’ll end up with a lot of fluid sloshing around in your stomach or bladder and standing in a long queue for the toilets pre-race!
Sodium is the main electrolyte lost in sweat, which is why we recommend adding a strong sodium-based electrolyte to the water you drink before you race.
Not sure how to hydrate before your marathon? Here’s a preloading protocol to help you start properly hydrated:
- Drink a stronger electrolyte drink the night before the race to boost your blood plasma volume. Aim for drinks containing >1,000mg of sodium per litre, like our PH 1500 supplement.
- Drink another bottle of stronger electrolyte drink about 90 mins before you start to top-up your blood plasma volume. Finish your drink >45 minutes before you set off to give your body time to fully absorb what it needs and remove any excess.
- Adding additional sodium to your pre-race drinks (and meals) helps you absorb and retain more fluid in your bloodstream. This means you’ll have a bigger reservoir of electrolytes/ fluids to draw upon once the race begins and you start sweating some of it out. Having more blood makes it easier for your cardiovascular system to meet the competing demands of cooling you down and delivering oxygen to your muscles.
What to drink during the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon
We’re regularly asked by athletes, ‘how much should I drink during my marathon?’ There’s no single, correct answer to this question but we’ve found that very few runners can drink more than 750ml (24oz) per hour.
The other factor to consider is what you should put in your drinks during your marathon.
We’d recommend personalising your hydration strategy because everyone loses a different amount of sodium in their sweat.
Maintaining the sodium levels in your blood is crucial to performing at your best when you’re working hard. As mentioned earlier, sodium helps you absorb and retain fluid, which keeps your blood volume up, reduces cardiovascular strain, fatigue and potentially helps you avoid cramping up.
How much sodium you lose is largely genetically determined and doesn’t change too much due to acclimation, diet etc. So, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to hydration simply doesn’t work.
Take the free online Sweat Test to receive a personalised hydration plan for your upcoming marathon.
How to rehydrate properly after a marathon
Generally speaking, you should be able to top up the fluids and electrolytes lost in your sweat by eating and drinking as you would normally eat during the hours after the race.
However, a more proactive approach to rehydration might be needed if you struggle with cramp or dehydration post-race. In these situations and scenarios where you’re particularly or want to be ready to perform again, a more deliberate fluid intake and sodium supplementation might be helpful.
Sports Scientists Asker Jeukendrup and Lindsay Baker (2014) concluded that if you want to rehydrate quickly in a situation where you’ve become quite dehydrated or need to be back on top form again very soon, then you need to drink about 1.5 times more fluid than you have lost, and you need to make sure there’s plenty of sodium either in or with the fluid to account for the salt loss too. (This is what makes PH 1500 such a good choice for fast rehydration).
We hope you find this information useful for the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon. If you would like help with your hydration strategy for training and racing, don’t forget to take the free online Sweat Test and then book a free one-to-one video call with a member of the Precision Hydration team to refine your strategy.
Have a great race!