I've always wanted to know what the consensus is about walking or running through water stops when you're racing. With marathon season nearly upon us, the water station question seemed like an appropriate one to ask. Do you walk or run through them? Does it depend on the race and the distance? Do you have a pattern that you follow?
I've known people who swear by walking through the water stations at the marathon. They say they can't drink from the cups unless they've slowed down. They've been instructed to do so by a coach or pace leader and then reconvene with the group after stopping for fluids. They say they reached the point in the race where they can't run anymore and walking takes over and it's better to walk the stations and attempt to run after leaving the station to make it to the next station faster where another walking break is waiting.
Then there are others who only run through the stations and run the whole race and sometimes don't even care who they take out in the process. You know these people: the ones who hit you from behind, spill liquid on your feet or steal the cup out of the volunteer's hand that you were going to reach for. Or they know that if they stop to walk there's no way they'll be able to resume running.
As for me? I'm more the in between. At the beginning of a race, if it's a marathon, I'm always running through the stops. I try not to squash people in my wake but I've definitely had a few cups that I've eyed but watched go to another runner. Depending on how I feel, I'll either run through the stations later in the race or walk through. The walk through, at least for me, signifies I've kinda thrown in the towel on the race and I'm just waiting for the finish line--it's a no PR day. Not glamorous but I guess I'm lucky that I'm able to grab the cup, pinch it to form a crease and then funnel the liquid down? That's at least how I felt when an accomplished marathon friend said she never runs through the stops mostly because she gets more water on her than in her mouth. That could work on a hot day but then you could be leaving yourself dehydrated at the same time.
The only time the running method doesn't work so well is when the stations are stocked with plastic cups and not paper ones. I'm still not sure why some of those stations at the California International Marathon used tiny plastic cups to quench the thirst of the runners--the plastic cups crunched on the ground almost posing a running hazard, I definitely spilled liquid down my front when the cup wouldn't give, and what I did get down left me wanting more but having to wait another two-plus miles to get it. I loved the race, but that was the one frustrating part I remembered as I logged those 26.2 miles.
I'm a runner through the water stations with an asterisk for not-so-good race days. What are you?
I'm all about drinking water and staying hydrated when I'm on the go. I always leave for work with a Nalgene or stainless steel bottle in tow. I feel naked without my Camelbak on a morning bike ride. I get mad at myself for stowing a bottle in the trunk when my husband and I are driving somewhere for a weekend getaway. And when the airlines said no liquids until you pass through security, I'd bring an empty water bottle--or dump what liquid was left on the curb before going through security--and then find the water fountain to refill on my way to the gate so I could stay hydrated and not have to buy a drink.
But I never expected that airport step to constantly work against me. And it most recently happened on a return flight from Washington, D.C., where I had gone over Labor Day to run a half marathon with my friends. I did my usual--stop at the water fountain to refill my water bottle before the flight--and made it a point to do so because I was feeling pretty dehydrated still from the long run. Put the water bottle back in my backpack, waited at the gate, boarded the plane and D.C. was history. Now you're probably wondering what could possibly go wrong with something so routine. Well, the water bottle itself coupled with the air pressure--I'm assuming--do not make a good mix. The problem was that when I arrived back in Chicago my backpack was a little damp when I retrieved it from below the seat. The culprit? The water bottle could be the only suspect. Immediately I think "not again" after having a similar problem with a different water bottle when heading to New York in 2007. That time I actually left the sipper a pinch open so the water dribbled out while the bag was down in flight, soaked the bottom of a notebook and not much else inside the bag but drenched my cell phone and killed it. So I learned my lesson then to make sure the cap was on tight and the sipper was down on all future water bottles. But the water bottle struck again, I just didn't know how bad until I got off the plane. I can feel the dampness along the back and bottom of my bag but when I look inside none of my notebooks are wet and I can't figure out where all the water went.
In the end, I think it settled on my computer, nestled in its separate laptop compartment. The computer worked fine when I got home and worked all afternoon. Then by the evening it couldn't hold a battery charge, wouldn't turn on, and I basically had a dead device I was working with. Not good as I was trying to finish up a million and one deadlines and had all of my files saved on the hard drive just waiting to be uploaded to the external drive at the end of the week.
To avoid that from happening again--I can't go through another week like I had when my computer went kuputz or the cell phone debacle--I have yet to come up with a solution. It should just be another water bottle to bring with me on the go but the negative side in me thinks that it'll happen again even if I switch up the bottle, screw it on tight or change storage locations. What I really need to do is remember to stow the bag but remove the bottle and keep it in the pocket behind the seat until we land. Any thoughts?
These past few weeks have been very exciting for me because I have been one of the coaches for the Fort Hood Combatives Team. These soldiers were picked from the Fort Hood tournament to go to Fort Benning and fight for the Army Championship. I was there to help train and condition them for the past few weeks. The days involved training, conditioning, and a small lecture from me daily. I was able to help teach them the importance of a good diet and also proper hydration. During one conditioning drill I put them in the pool. I told them to bring water with them but they laughed and told me that they would not need it. I had them swim laps and do some water aerobics, by the end of the conditioning drill they were dying for water. They never realized how much water could be lost-even when in a large body of water.
The tournament was last week and our team took home 7th place out of 62 teams. I was very proud of them. Over the week they have trickled in to say hello. Each one of them has thanked me personally for teaching them the importance of a proper diet and hydration. Mission completed.
This past week I did a blind taste test with some members of my team and customers at our store, PUR filtered water vs tap water vs an expensive machine processed water filter ( a sales rep happened to come to the store that day so I put him to the test!) Taste-wise, tap water was on the bottom of the list, PUR and the processed water were both smoother to drink and easier to swallow of course!
My bosses son has switched to filtered water now and feels like his stomach issues are much better and have given up sodas!
I gave my neighbors some coolers and talked to them about the benefits of Hydration and switching from sodas to PUR water ( yes they now have a filter pitcher in their fridge!) and have reported back having lost 3 pounds in 3 weeks and feeling great!
Meanwhile I continue to use/re-use my Sigg bottle every day, sometimes with some iced green tea as my pre-workout drink, love the idea of not dragging a case of water inside twice a week!
I am really excited to have the opportunity of coaching a Girls on the Run team through my city. This is an excellent program for young girls ages 8-13. Throughout the program, they will learn about self esteem, nutrition, and values, all while training to complete a 5K race. I think this will be a great opportunity for me to grow as well as help them get started in running. While I was a gymnast from a very early age, I did not run until I was in college. I am glad that I have my involvement with PUR, because I will need to stress the importance of hydration to them, especially when they start doing their longer timed runs. GOTR has provided them each with a reusable water bottle, which they are to bring filled with water prior to each practice, and I am to ensure that there is extra water for them on their longer runs by creating aid stations on the track, so this will be an interesting challenge for me to provide them filtered water, but I believe I am up to it. I am sure my PUR pitcher will be getting a lot of use over these next weeks so that I can provide clean good tasting water to the girls on their long runs.
For the past 2 weeks I traveled around the amazing country of Ecuador. This was my first time out of the United States since camping on a random beach just south of Tijuana, Mexico in 2004. Ecuador, like most countries to our south, does not have a safe tap water system for foreign tourists. So what this meant for us was 2 weeks of buying bottled water to quench our thirst and what an amazing amount of plastic and money we spent on it!
Before traveling to Ecuador I tried to wrack my brain for the last time I purchased a bottle of water and I failed to remember. Have no fear, I will not forget about how many bottles of water I purchased in Ecuador for a long time to come. This experience was eye-opening for me since so many American's purchase 1,2 and sometimes 3 bottles of water on a daily basis. The amount of plastic going into our landfills from these bottles must be enormous. The benefits of a PUR water filter really hit home as well, not only for the great taste, but the savings on both hard earned $$$ and plastic going into our landfills. Speaking of taste, I was blown away at the poor quality in taste of a lot of the bottled water we purchased in Ecuador. When I arrived back at my house on Monday night I opened the fridge and poured myself a tall glass of ice cold PUR water and what a relief that was.
So the next time I travel abroad, I'll probably still be buying bottled water for safety reasons, but for those that buy bottled water daily, just think for a second on how much you could be saving yourself and the planet by using a PUR filter. Maybe my next post will be some geeky financial information on the savings from using a PUR water filter in your home or office.
What's the most popular accessory for carrying your water and sports drinks when you're out and about? I wish I knew the answer, but I'm hoping to rely on athlete input to help answer the question. The options I could think of include:
Camelbakor the likehydration packs: These backpacks with straws (that's what I call it at least) conveniently draped over the shoulder make hydrating on-the-go almost too easy, especially if you don't want to dig in a bag for a water bottle or search for a water fountain. These are really popular while hiking, and I've seen some people sporting them while running and walking. I find it easy to use while cycling, especially on century rides and lately I've spotted triathletes using them during races (and I thought I was one of the few who used it while racing a few years ago, but earlier in the month I must have seen at least five triathletes wearing them on the 56-mile bike).
Water bottles: This is the option I think I spot the most often. We'll buy them as singles or in 24-packs at the grocery store, grab them from volunteers after a race, tote them to the beach or to work. And they're easy to fill with our favorite combination of fluid whether it be straight-up tap water, PUR-filtered water, a sports drink or even watered-down juice.
Fuel Belt or any other brand of belt with bottles: Popular among runners, especially half marathoners and marathoners, these are great for carrying a sports drink for those long miles where you know you need something besides water from the water fountain (that's me and my Lakefront runs) or you're going out in the middle of nowhere and know you won't be getting fuel unless you bring your own.
Aerobottles like the Aerodrink: They take on different names and looks but these are a step up from a traditional water bottle and fit in between the aerobars and a handy way to stay fueled during a triathlon. Fill them with any combination of water, sports drink, energy fuel (like Hammer Nutrition products, Accelerade or Infinit). Then when you're racing you don't have to reach down or behind you to pick up a water bottle, just bend down a pinch and sip from the straws. Another one of my faves.
Hand-held or waist-wrap bottle carriers: I don't know about you, but it's tough to carry a water bottle as is while on the run because it can easily slip out of your grip. These holders make it a lot easier by either strapping the bottle around your hand or slipping into a holder that wraps like a fanny pack around your waist. Not to go back to triathlons again, but I've seen a lot of people sporting these, especially the hand-held ones, on the run leg so they can hydrate before waiting for a water station to pop up. Some companies making these include RoadRunner Sports, Asics, Brooks, Fuel Belt, Ultimate Direction and Nathan.
Hydration stations: OK, this obviously isn't an accessory but at least here in Chicago we're fortunate enough to have a great bunch of volunteers who come out on Saturday mornings at points along the 18 miles of Lakefront Path to set up tables filled with water and Gatorade. It's just like being at a race where you can help yourself and then you don't even have to carry your own fuel.
So with all of these options, how do you stay hydrated?
Last week was a huge week for me in terms of racing. I had my second Triathlon EVER on Wednesday night. It was the final of a series of races at Island Lake State park, and the first in the series was my first ever tri. I was super excited about it, and since it was an evening race, I spent a lot of the day preparing for it. You cannot believe my HORROR when I got about halfway to the race site and realized I had left both of my water bottles that I had prepared with water from my PUR faucet in the refrigerator. I had planned to use these bottles for hydration on the bike. Yikes! Fortunately, I had been hydrating all day, and had an aluminum reusable bottle of water with me that I prepared with flavored PUR water, but it did not have a sport top for biking. Luckily, I had enough friends at the race and was able to borrow a bottle with a sport top for the ride. Since I made sure to go through all the trouble to have water on the bike, I made sure to drink it (which I sometimes forget to do while biking), and it made a huge difference. I am sure some of it was my training, but I was able to take 7 minutes off my 800m swim time, 4 minutes off my 12 mile bike, and 3 minutes off my 3.1 run from my first tri ever, for a total of over 13 minutes improvement in my overall time (my transitions were longer, unfortunately). While I did not place in this race, my finish time had me more in the middle of the pack for my age group instead of being almost last like before.
Then, just a few days later, on Saturday, I competed in the Maybury Time Trial, an approximately 10 mile cross country mountain bike race. I had been looking forward to this race for a long time, and had purchased a new bike at the beginning of the season with this race in mind, so I really wanted to do well. Peer pressure had gotten the best of me this week, as far as doing the tri, because I would have not planned another race so close to this one which was so important to me. My husband started first, and my 3 year old daughter had her first race EVER, and I started last! We were there pretty much all day, and hydration was very important. We brought TONS of water bottles from home filled with PUR filtered water to keep us hydrated througout the day, and used our camelbacks on our races. My husband and I both finished 3rd in our respective age groups and classes, and my daughter finished her .1 mile ride on her tiny bike! Being a time trial, everyone had their own start time. I was first in my class to start, based on the alphabet. I had to make sure to just go as fast as physically possible, because I did not have any other riders near me to judge how I was doing, except for being passed by the two ladies that finished ahead of me. Fortunately, my time held up and the only two ladies faster than me were those I saw. It was a great day.
Last weekend was a great weekend. It was the weekend of the Tree Farm Relay, in Novi, MI, at Lakeshore Park. We had a bit more water than we wanted- we had more coming from the sky that neccessary for mountain biking, but overall we had a great time. The day started with lots of rain, and it dried out nicely for the start of the sport category, although the trail was quite messy for the start and end of the race. I had a team of 4 women and my husband had a team of 4 men. We had a great turnout from our family and friends. I started the race with a LeMans style start. My team was the Tu N Tu Bella's, and it was formed of 3 former Team Stayput members and my college roommate. Wearing tutus was a tradition my girlfriends started doing Dances With Dirt, a 50 mile trail running relay, and we wanted to keep it alive with the mountain bike relay. We spent the whole day outside, so being well hydrated was extremely important. I was glad we had a tent for our team complete with cooler of fluids.
I was also really excited to receive my welcome kit from PUR. I love having the pitcher in our refrigerator to have fresh, cold, purified water for myself and my family. It is great to give to my children in their sippy cups, put in my camelback, and to take with me everywhere. I enjoy being able to use resusable water containers for myself and my family, and this has really enabled me to have much better, cleaner water with me.
So last weekend I completed my longest ever bike ride. I headed out from downtown Denver with a couple friends for what we here in the Mile High city call "Super Evans." Evans refers to Mt. Evans which sits at the lofty height of 14,264 feet above most beaches. This was my last big training ride before competing at the Leadville 100 on August 15th. We set out not to break records on this ride, but to finish the ride and still have energy.
On a journey that consisted of 129 miles and 15,500 feet of vertical climbing the 2 biggest factors for completion aka survival would be hydration and nutrition. I left my house with 2 bottles filled to the brim with PUR filtered water and potpouri of energy bars and gels. I ended up refilling my bottles a total of 6 times each for 14 bottles in total. That may seem like a lot of fluid, but hydration should always be on your mind whether your out doing a cruise around town or on a monster bike ride. Here in Colorado that dry climate also plays a big factor for depleting water in your body so I'm always sippin' water whether I'm on the bike or cubing it up at work.
So just remember to keep those fluids up and you'll be amazed what your body can do when properly hydrated!
As an athlete, I always try to stay in the know about how important hydration is. I know not to leave the house without a Camelbak when I take my bike out on the Lakefront. I have my run routes mapped around the water fountains. And my workout is never a good one if I somehow manage to forget my water bottle at home and I have to keep jumping off the machine and rehydrating.
I know to stay hydrating but sometimes it's hard to keep drinking water and I'm craving of something, anything, else. I try adding lemon juice or even a little Gatorade powder to sweeten my drink, but the tedious process sometimes has more foregoing that drink because I don't want to mix the concoction. So I was super excited when a package from PUR arrived with a pitcher and water filter that also contained a flavor package to mix up the taste of the water. I already liked the water straight from the pitcher because now I finally didn't have to deal with semi-warm water straight from the tap and I had the option of adding flavor with a few quick taps of a button. I'm liking it already and know I'm staying more fueled in the process. And with a race coming up, I know it's even more important.
Stay tuned to hear more. I'm sure I'll have some hydration thoughts after the race. Last time I suspected I was dehydrated because I felt like a camel the following day, guzzling water and never seeming to get enough.