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 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.
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.
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.
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