Drink smart before, during and after the race

From the doctor:A list on how and when to drink water

Göteborgsvarvet’s own medical doctor, Claes Mangelus, has put together a list on how and when to drink fluids during the race. Follow his advice for a safer race experience.

Claes Mangelus advice

Fill out your details on your race bib

We would really appreciate you writing your details, such as name, any illnesses or medications, on the back of your race bib. This information could be crucial if you should need medical assistance during the race.

Avoid drinking too little — or too much

If you don’t drink enough during a long race, especially if it’s warmer than 23 degrees Celsius, there’s a risk of dehydration. Mild cases can affect your performance, and a serious case of dehydration can cause overheating with shock symptoms.

Drinking too much and not sweating enough can also be dangerous. The body’s fluids become diluted and the salt level rises. The risk is higher, for this scenario, if your race time is over 3-4 hours.

Choosing the right drink

If you are used to drinking water, then it’s more than enough on a normal spring day in Gothenburg. The sport drinks that are offered contain sugar, which gives you extra energy, and salt. Your body can absorb the fluid faster and better with this mixture. If it’s especially hot, sport drinks are particularly good to replace the salt loss.

Practice drinking right

Practice drinking the right amount of fluids for your body when you train. Weigh yourself before and after training. You should weigh ½-1 kg less after training, make sure that you don’t gain weight — this means that you drank too much water. Learn to drink only when you feel thirsty.

Test and see if water or sport drinks suit you best. You can eat salty snacks, such as pretzels (but not salty liquorice), during training as it provides extra salt. You can also check your urine to make sure you are drinking enough. If it’s pale to light yellow, you have enough liquids in your body, but if it’s dark you could be dehydrated.

Eat and drink well before the race

Make sure you drink enough water before race day, avoid alcohol which is dehydrating.

Infections in your body, like a cold, can affect the fluid balance. If you have an infection, you should not run a long race. Do not take NSAIDs, like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or Naproxen amoung others before the race. Paracetamol etc are, on the other hand, safe.

It’s a good idea to eat salty foods the day before the race to raise your salt levels. A good tip is to eat something salty and drink 1-2 cups of water a few hours before race. You can drink 1-2 cups more before it’s your turn to run, more if it’s warm. When you use the bathroom before start, check your urine according to the above.

During the race, remember the rule “a cup a mile (1,6 km) makes you smile”! Follow your thirst, it’s usually a good idea to drink a cup of water/sport drink every 15-20 minute, especially if it’s warm. You can bring a salty snack to eat the last part of the race, again — extra important if it’s a warm day.

Stop if it doesn’t feel right

If you feel sick or ill in any way, for example if you stop sweating, feel weak, dizzy and nauseous or experience chest pains, stop running immediately! If you don’t feel better within five to ten minutes, seek medical advice.

Continue to move

When you’ve passed the finish line, try to continue run or walk fast. Don’t drink too fast or too much, but sport drinks are good and/or a salty snack.

Good to know

Göteborgsvarvet has its own experienced and well organized medical team which is prepared to take care of every runner’s need, from blisters to serious incidents.

/Claes Mangelus