Leslie Kay

Tips on staying hydrated on race day

Whether it's a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon, hydration is KEY to a successful and safe run during a runDisney race.

By education and title, I am an exercise physiologist. By human being, I am a runner. I can honestly say after countless 5Ks and 10Ks, 15 half marathons and three marathons (four of those races being runDisney events!), I am addicted to the freedom and the ease of losing yourself in a few miles. Through my experience, however, I have seen my own performance soar and sink – all based off of weather changes and hydration. That's why I wanted to share some tips so that you feel prepared at that starting line.

Cigna runner poses with Mickey Mouse at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

So while I am not from where the races take place, I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – home of what may seem like a lot rain and snow than other cities. While preparing for the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend races that are in January, I was training in the depths of our winter weather. So, my body was in for a challenge when it hit 85 degrees on the day of the full marathon. I had run the half marathon the day before and was already depleted, but felt I had rested and recovered as best I could. The heat got to me very quickly, though, and over the course of 26.2 miles, I felt myself slowing down more and more each mile. Thoughts of quitting, coupled with a fear of passing out, entered my mind. If only I had hydrated better!

If you are going to experience a weather change, try to get to your race site a few days early to acclimate, but more importantly, HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! Here are some more of my tips to be prepared for weather, hydration and different climates:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout training, but especially the week leading up to the race.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, alcohol and desserts the weekend of the race as they will dehydrate you.
  • Load up on fruits and veggies, along with your complex carbs, on the days leading up to the race.
  • Get water at every water stop (or at least every other stop). If you want the sports drink (which you should if the temperatures are 70 or higher), switch at every other station. Aim for 3-6oz of fluid every 15-20 minutes.
  • Avoid the sun as much as you can for a few days leading up to the race to stay rested and not deplete any energy stores.
  • Energy gels or gummies are great for short-term energy, but be sure to wash them down with water (not a sports drink). If people are handing out oranges – take them!
  • A lot of people worry about having to go to the bathroom during a race. Avoid water 60 minutes prior to the race but if you have to go – go! There will be plenty of opportunities along the way.
  • Don't eat or drink anything new on race weekend, and especially on race day!
  • Pay attention to your urine throughout your entire training period. If it's clear – you are well hydrated. If it is not – drink up!

Disney race specifics:

  • From beginner runners to serious athletes, the runDisney events have a lot of participants with varying levels of experience. Try to remember that this race is fun, pretty flat aside from the onramps, and people will stop to take pictures with characters along the way. This can delay your race time – don't let it delay your hydration, though.
  • On race day, you wake up very early and arrive to the race several hours before you begin, so it's easy to deplete yourself of hydration and energy before you even begin. Bring water and any pre-workout hydration in disposable bottles.

Good luck with your training, and have a magical and safe race!

Alissa Spears is a health coach at Cigna®, the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program. Source: