After some discussion on my morning run, I was curious to see what people thought about walking vs. running through water stops during a marathon (or half-marathon) race. I used to walk through each water stop and quickly drink my beverage, but have started running with a water bottle and walking only to fill up when my bottle is empty. What do you think? Does it really make your marathon time that much faster by not walking? Also, in training, is it necessary to practice walking or running through water stops??
I don't think it makes that much difference if you walk or run water stops. It might matter if you're trying to Boston qualify (or otherwise hit a specific time) and you know it's going to be close. You might save twenty or thirty second each time, so maybe 5 minutes over the course. It could be less depending on how long and how fast you walk. The only other consideration I can think of is some people have a hard time starting to run again after walking. I don't think practice is needed for water stops, unless you've never done it before.
My first two marathons I thought that I had to stop at all the water stops- but it works best for me now to just drink at the ones where I'm thirsty.
Anyway, if you want to walk, it's a good way to catch your breath and not splash through the mud/dirt always around water stops. If you choose to walk- stay off to the side so those that want to run through don't have to go around you.
I have to agree with Len- it really doesn't make much of a difference timewise- unless you are an ELITE runner- then you might want to make arraingements to have your liquids prestaged on the course by the race crew.
Practice your running/water stops on how you plan to stop during the race. That way you don't get thrown off on race day.
Run threw the water stop, and take a brief drink, just enough for recovery. Reason being, when you walk, you loose your momentum during the run. When you start walking, you have to work harder to kick your headrate back up to reach full stride. Also don't carry a water bottle, you'll find it as a distraction, and you'll suddently find yourself switching hands to carry it, and then soon looking for a spot to leave it because its slowing you down.