The importance of hydration when running

Hello! Part 2 of my running training will come up later tonight, so expect a running double bill today! Lucky… or unlucky you! Shall we?

 

This year I did my annual jaunt around Belfast in the marathon. Although I had not trained as much as I would have liked (working through that) I felt a safe 4-4:30 time was doable though, as I usually try to start too quick, so if I reign that in and just go at a nice pace with the Pacers then I should be okay! High hopes! This year was a bit different from previous years as the day before I had run a half marathon with the East Antrim group. I went nice and easy and it was a flat race. So I actually felt good about things.

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That was until I woke up the next day and saw that the sun was breaking out from the clouds. This was meant to be an overcast day with a little bit of Sun throughout the race. Nothing too bad then…. Well, whoever the weatherman was that told everyone about the weather for Monday was a damn liar. As soon as I got to the start line the sun was out and it was strong. I had no hat or sunglasses to protect me as I had not prepared for a fully sunny day. I had decided to just wear one layer of clothing as before I had worn two (it’s Belfast, so assume rain will arrive!) to make sure I didn’t overheat.

I always run with a bladder pack as I quite enjoy the idea of passing all those runners who stop for water. It’s the competitor in me I guess, passing those and hoping they don’t try and speed past me when they are hydrated. I filled this pack up to its 2 litre limit. Something I have to train for as running with that extra weight will alter your running until it starts going down. Also for training runs and well any run, I want to stay hydrated and those little bottles on a belt do not do it for me. I like my liquids okay! Plus I just think staying hydrated on any run is important. I see runners all the time running on towpaths and in places that there is not necessarily a place for them to purchase water or an iso drink when they need it. I want some on me as I know I will need it. Pretty simple for me!

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Anyway back to the race! The sun came out and it was the first sunny day in the year, so no one had trained for this and as I had my bladder pack, I wasn’t overly worried about the sun as I assumed the clouds would come and make things a bit easier, plus I had my pack! I was going to be grand! How wrong was I…

I first started seeing people struggle at the 6-mile marker, it looked like people had tried to set off on a fast 10k pace to get a good start as the Belfast race is a grind for the inclines. I learned that this was not the way to go. Go easy enough on the first 6 miles(10k) as from then on you are going up continuously (with the odd little decline) for the next 7 miles! You need to pace these well otherwise you will be broken at the worst part of the course as those climbs feel never ending. There was the normal amount of water stations so nothing can be faulted on the organisers. No one saw this weather coming, people were drinking so it is all good. If I was a volunteer or organiser at the water stations, I maybe would have told people to take two cups… Just to make sure people keep safe, but that is nitpicking to nitpick.

 

 

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Unusually sunny summer in Northern Ireland!

 

I had kept it easy, I knew from this weather that my plan was going to be scuppered, so I decided to enjoy the race and focus on finishing. At mile 13, people were cramping and a lot were struggling a little. Then the crowds helped out, lots of families had their own water stations, had their hoses out to shower runners. It was greatly appreciated! Amazing what a lot of water dumped on you will do.

The struggles continued, but so did the unabating sun as it just felt like it was on my face the entire day. I was hot and soaked from all the showers (shout out to the Duncrue fire station for having a massive ‘shower’ planned for runners at mile 22). I was struggling, but so was everyone else, this was a lovely sunny day, I think we all just hoped it had been as sunny as this beforehand, just to cope and prepare (hello baseball cap). For the last mile I decided to run hard and overtake people and finish strong. This was the worst thing I have ever done in a race. At the straight I almost threw up, I was wobbly and felt horrible. I had never felt like this during or after a race before. I got my water and struggled to a shaded area lay there for a few minutes. My head was spinning, I had no idea why I was feeling this way. It was only afterward, and I mean days afterward, that I realised that I had been severely dehydrated and possibly sunstroke. As I am a larger guy, I guess I should have drunk more, but I thought the 2.5 litres (an estimate) that I had drunk was sufficient.

 

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My trusty hydration backpack

 

This experience has made me reconsider my running and hydration. So on Sunday when I went for my run, I stopped at mile 18 as I had run out of water a few miles beforehand and as the weather was even hotter than that race day. I knew I wasn’t going to be silly, even if I had found a shop in that next mile I would be drinking all that water and I feel I wouldn’t risk that to then keep going again and hit that 20-mile marker. This is a big thing for me… I love rounding up those distances even if the last two miles being terribly slow!

I know a lot of people will run faster and further than me, but I hope you all stay hydrated when doing so! Have you had any nightmare running experiences? Not being hydrated enough during a race? What tips do you use to stay hydrated?

Thanks for reading and Until next time!

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