|Reaching for a sponge at a drink station|
in the inaugural Melbourne Marathon
in 1978 (2nd, 2:23:06)
I don't like carrying gear, including fluids, nor do I like stopping during long runs to drink. Maybe I'm a prima donna, but I find even short stops can break my running rhythm, and there have been times when this has cost me in an event. My own layman's theory of hydration for distance runners, based on an experiment of one, is that the more long running you do without frequently hydrating, the more your body adapts by "camelling up", i.e., storing fluids in the body in anticipation of the next long run. It's the same theory that applies to the muscles storing glycogen in response to repeated training runs. It seems to be common sense to me that the more you do something, and the more you press against the edge of your body's envelope, the more your body adapts to the increasing load.
|This morning's long run took in a roller-coaster section|
of the Ridgeway
In my best running years, I drank very sparingly during marathon races unless it was hot. Usually, I would put out plastic sauce bottles containing some flat Coca Cola at each 5km feeding station. Then I would run through, grab the bottle, and take a couple of well-spaced mouthfuls before discarding it. If I didn't feel thirsty, or it was nearer the end of the race (does the body really process fluids into the bloodstream in any meaningful way in the last 30 minutes of a race?), or I was in a pack of runners making it difficult to get the bottle, then I wouldn't take a drink. On average, I would have been lucky to drink a total of more than 400ml during marathon races, and sometimes nothing at all in cool conditions. I was much more inclined to pour water over myself from a sponge or cup to keep cool.
Of course, for your body to "camel up" between runs, you have to drink a lot of fluids, and I do. In my case, and I take a lot of flak for this, it's mostly diet colas with some fruit juice and black coffee thrown in occasionally. Almost no water! In total, about three litres of fluid a day.