I am guilty of not considering any of this during my runs (current longest regular run is 8 miles (75 mins-ish), and generally don't carry anything with me.  Starting this week I will be upping my mileage and this long run in particular with a view to my first half-marathon at the end of june, and who knows what else after (Dublin marathon?)  I want to get an electrolyefuelhydration strategy correct now, that I can use throughout my training and translate into the race proper (reverse engineering the best race strategy might be best).  In an ideal world it would be nice if it wasn't too expensive, one of the attractions of running is that it's essentially free (he typed with a straight face, and about £400 of running kit in his bedroom drawer).

Any suggestions advise would be gratefully recieved.

My first questions would be:

What is the best race-day strategy? Gels for fuelelectrolyte + water stations would seem to make the most sense to me on paper, or will I need to be carrying my own hydration no matter what?


  • It depends on the length of the run/race.

    Half marathon distance or less, I only take water. 

    You should have enough glycogen in your muscles for that sort of distance if you eat properly and make sure you are hydrated before your run/race.

    I carry my own water in a bottle belt, because I like to drink when I want to, and to get it down my throat rather than up my nose!

  • Thanks for the reply wilkie, how much liquid do you carry for half and full marathons? 

    On the face of it a bottle belt looks uncomfortable?  Do you have to remember to alternate bottles to maintain balance?  I was just looking at a 2l Camelbak (I'm thinking 2l is going to be enough for up to 16miles3 hours if I need it)

    I had my first experience of dealing with paper cups on the hoof on Saturday, as you say, not much went in my mouth lol!

  • The belt takes a bottle which holds something like 850ml.  Not sure what you mean about alternating?  The bottle sits at the back.

    It takes a little getting used to, but make sure you have it tight or it jiggles about.

    I take a full bottle, but drink just as much as I want/need, which is rarely all of it. 

    I can't see that you would need two litres, unless it was very, very hot, and two litres weighs 2kg!  Make sure you're well hydrated BEFORE the run, too.

  • I have a belt that carries four 250ml bottles and a pouch for a couple of gels for HM i take two bottles one with High5 4-1 and one water incase i want a gel.
  • Wilkie - I've seen bottle belts with space for 2 or 4 bottles, I assumed you were using one of these,  looks like I am overestimating the amount of liquid I need, which bodes well from a costweighthassle point of view.

    S3200H - my thinking now, is since I'd be carrying water anyway, I might as well mix carbssalt in with it, rather than use gels.  I'll try it anyway, and if my stomach doesn't like it then look at the gels.

    I'll maybe make up 1l with a 50/50 mix of pure orange and water and add half teaspoon of salt and see how that goes down?  Might well be rank.

  • mowzermowzer ✭✭✭

    JLB3 - once you get onto your longer runs you could try adding Elete to the water you carry. (I believe Nunn tablets are also similar). No taste, no sticky goo, and provides the salts/electrolytes you need. You can also use it before/after training or races.

    I have a 2 bottle belt. It needs to be quite tight but as Wilkie says, you get used to it. You probably won't need a Camelback/ rucksack unless you are going off-road for a good few hours and want to take your picnic with you image.  Good idea to start thinking about this in advance as sorting out what suits you can take a long time.

  • yes what ever works it is trial and error till you find what works best for you. i don't use the gel very often, just have it incase i want a boost.
  • Thanks for all your input guys. 

    It's all a bit of a head melter once you start researching, so many products, options, advice; but I want to get on the right track at the start to maximise my training and so I'm not doing anything new come race day.

  • Racing and training are very different. I don’t take water or gels on training runs up to and including 20 miles, unless the weather is hot. If it is then I will take water only in a belt. I wore the belt in a race once and it was like carrying a brick – never again, that's what drinks stations are for. In a half marathon race I take a cup of water once, about midway, walking through the drinks station as it costs almost no time and ensures you get hydrated, no gels. In a marathon I take regular gels at miles 5, 10 and 15 and one with caffeine at mile 20. Energy conservation and hence early fuel is more important at this distance. Water at 6 miles, 12 miles, 15 miles, 18 miles and 21 miles (or as near as possible). I wouldn’t get hung up on taking gels/ fuel for training, although you should try it out once or twice to make sure it doesn’t make you sick (or worse).

    Should also add I use 'Gu' gels now as they are lighter (less water) than 'SiS' which was what I used previously, but each to their own on this really.

  • Often a marathon will provide sports drinks and gels, find out which ones and try them out on a long run beforehand.

    For my long training runs I take a bottle of lucozade with me which I carry in my hand (tried a bottle belt, couldn't make it comfortable) and some jelly babies (one every 2 miles).

    If it's very hot and/or a long way I take a CamelBak with a mixture of water of lucozade. It makes your back all sweaty but it's the best thing I've found so far.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭
    For the amount of fluid you can extract from a cup during the race, you may as well drink the same quantity before the start. Saves time.
  • RicF wrote (see)
    For the amount of fluid you can extract from a cup during the race, you may as well drink the same quantity before the start. Saves time.
    Some gels require you to take water with them - that's one benefit of in race drinks. Agreed you don't really need water for anything up to half marathon in most cases, although you will probably benefit on a hot day.
  • my experience was that when i started running i needed to drink a lot more than i do now. I don't know if it is because i think more about what i eat/drink before i go out now, or could it be because my body is better conditioned?
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