I don't normally bother with specifically hydrating the week before a race (e.g. a half marathon).  In fact I don't drink much normally, as I don't get thirsty and don't want to have to go to the toilet all the time - I do however take on board water during racing as I've heard it helps to make your muscles work.

Anyway this time I've decided to make a conscious effort to try and hydrate the week or so before my upcoming half marathon and I was wondering whether it has to be boring old water or whether soft drinks and things like ginger beer are just as effective for hydrating (as they obviously contain water too - although so does alcohol and I guess that can't be used ;-p), if not quite so healthy.

Expert views appreciated...guessing not! ;-p


  • Ignoring seawater piss etc, if it's liquid it will work fine.
    However, having just read 'Waterlogged' by Tim Noakes, It would also appear that the concept of 'hydrating' is ill-concieved garbage. 
    In short if you feel like a drink then drink, if not, don't.

  • Interesting Ian.  As I say, I don't normally bother with it and I drink quite a bit less than the average person probably anyway, however it has never seemed to affect my running.  But you see after watching the Olympic Cycling, I wanted to copy their philosophy of "aggregating the fractions" and see if that makes me improve my time.  Athough I draw a line at running with a aero dynamic helmet.

  • It might. But bare in mind the people who win the races are often the most dehydrated, so maintaining constant hydration levels probably isn't one of those aggragate gains.


  • I don't think that loading yourself with liquid  a week before raceday is the thing to do.  I am not convinced that hydrating any time before the day of the race will make any measurable difference.

    But note that "any liquid will be fine" is actually not good advice. Because some will DEHYDRATE you.

    You already implied that alcohol is bad...  quite apart from the toxins, almost everybody knows that your body uses up water in trying to get rid of alcohol and the other toxins... hence the dehydration and thirst the next morning.

    But also some people believe that coffee, tea, coca cola, Red Bull  and any caffeine containing drink has a diuretic effect. The same with herbal teas. A good illustration is herbal teas containing dandelion.... but other herbs can do similar. You remember how when you were a kid, people used to say that if you picked dandelions, then you'd wet the bed...  well that's because of a duretic effect.. making you urinate more.  (The french word for dandelion is 'pissenlit', which literally translates to 'piss in the bed'). Personally, I believe that drinking a lot of tea has a diuretic effect, but there is some debate about this.

    Pineapple juice also has diuretic effects - and strawberries.... indeed I understand that dried pineapple is sometime used as a natural remedy where somebody has a water-retention problem.  It has a dehydrating effect.  So choosing what you eat, as well as drink is important could have a small effect on your hydration and performance.

    For me, if I run say 10 miles, I believe that if I take a 30-40 second 'break' to take on water half way through, then I more than make up that time by improved performance in the next few miles. It is also healthier.

    On an important, but somewhat unrelated issue, there is a body of opinion that what you do day to day (drink little), is not good for your health. You should take on extra water, even if it costs you an extra couple of trips to the loo each day.   In layman's terms, by not drinking enough, your blood (and other bodily fluids) are enriched in natural toxins.  Some people believe that not hydrating enough is as bad for your cardio-vascular system as having high cholestrol.

    In summary, I'd recommend not bothering too much about over-hydrating a week in advance...  but in the last few hours before the race then, yes. You might as well start with decent hydration so increase your water intake somewhat...  and watch out for drinks and food that could undo some of that good work by causing you to lose the water you're taking on board.

  • Definitely worth reading "Water Logged" by Prof Tim Noakes.

  • Hmm ... there is certainly a lot of old tosh passed off as fact with regard to hydration (much of it originating from bottled water companies!). Be sensible; keep urine pale and drink when thirsty - remember your requirement for fluid can be got from most drinks (with the exception of alcohol) and many foods. Current thinking tends to say that, although perhaps not very good for you in other ways, caffinated drinks have no more of a diuretic effect than water.

  • Your body is amazingly effective at ridding itself of "toxins" and any supplement/ drink/ diet aimed at helping this process is probably tosh.

    THe excerpts from Noakes' book look interesting- perhaps I should stop glugging away at my water bottle every kilometer or so- food for thought!

  • Even alcohol can rehydrate if it is of low strength - wasn't there a study not so long ago that showed beer was better than water for rehydrating after a run?  Not forgetting the fact that until relatively recently the population (including children) drank beer because drinking the disease ridden water would kill them.

    Another thing not always taken into account is the water in what we eat - not just naturally occurring such as in fruit but also that absorbed during cooking - pasta is a good example.

  • WE did a scientific dehytarion/ rehydtarion thingy as preparation to the kuala lumpur commonwealth games, and I'm sure that weak beer was recommended by the lab guy who was studying this- I think it needs to be realtively low % alcohol- about 3%  from recollection ( bear in mind this was many years ago- I think the end conclusion was that shandy is the best!!!- perhaps this is selsctive menory, but works for me!)

  • Tim Noakes? What does an ageing ex Blue Peter presenter know about Hydration? Get down Shep!

  • I dont do fluid overload in the week before. I am doing Tonbridge this weekend, and will just keep my fluid levels as normal. I have done too many races, where i have tried just drinking water all week, and it makes no difference. I sweat more than most, so come Sunday, will have my Camelbak, to keep fluids on the go, and a Zero tablet to keep my electrolytes in check.

    Everyone is individual.

  • isn't the correct remedy for water retention to actually drink more fluids as the body is only holding on to the water because it is not getting enough so is not as willing to get rid of what it has, like the body holding on to fat when people decrease calorie intake suddenly.

    also they say the amount of water in an average tea or coffee outwieghs the diuretic effect of the caffiene.

    then again it could all be lies and propaganda


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