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How to Avoid a Half Marathon Meltdown – Hydration


How to Avoid a Half Marathon Meltdown

During your half marathon training, hydration plays a key role in helping you finish the race. Are there some runners that can run an entire half marathon race without hydrating during the race, yes. You can train your body to run the entire distance with only the water you drink prior to the race. For first time half marathon runners, this isn’t feasible. Here is a breakdown of some key areas during your half marathon training that you need to consider for hydration purposes.

Hydrating during your base runs

A base run is a run that is designed to help build your base to sustain greater lengths of runs. At the beginning level during your half marathon training, base runs consist of miles anywhere from 2 to 6 miles (most of these are 3 and 4 miles). When I trained for my first half marathon I drank about 12 oz of water prior to my base runs and nothing else during the run. After I completed the base mile run, I drank something to replace my sodium loss, such as G2 Gatorade.

Hydrating during your long runs

During my long runs, anything in excess of 6 miles for me, I wore a CamelBak Hydration Pack. I filled up my 2-liter pack only halfway since I didn’t need 2 liters of water. I would train myself to drink water only on the mile marker. Another strategy commonly used is to drink a few sips of water whenever you feel thirsty, that way you don’t have to overthink it. If you don’t plan on using a hydration pack for your actual race, but instead want to carry a handheld sports bottle, you can perform the same type of sipping every mile or whenever you’re thirsty.

If you tend to sweat a lot, you might need to increase your intake of fluids or some type of electrolyte sports drink. Each person’s amount of fluid needs varies from individual to individual. You might have to experiment a little bit to figure out just how much water your body needs. In my half marathon guide, I provide a simple strategy to determine how much water you will need for your half marathon race.

How To Aviod A Half Marathon Meltdown - Hydration

Hydration on race day

Leading up to the start of the race try to drink at least 12 oz (1/3 of a liter) of water. If you’re racing with your own handheld water bottles, hydration belt, or hydration pack then you should know how much water to pack and how much to drink on race day. If you’re racing without any hydration help then you need to scout out the locations of the water stations along your racecourse. Some water stations might have gaps as long as 3 miles between each other. In this case, I would slow down to a walk and drink a cup of water at each water station. If you’ve been sweating a lot grab a cup full of sports drink at the same time.

Don’t drink too much prior to your race

If you’ve drunk too much water prior to your race, your stomach will be sloshing around making you feel uncomfortable.  If this is the case try to use the restroom and relieve yourself.


If you’re properly hydrated and actually don’t need any more water at any particular water station along your route then grab a cup and dump it over your head. The volunteers will get a good laugh and you will get to cool down for a few minutes. If you really want the volunteers to laugh throw it on your racing buddy instead. I’ve done this many times during my racing history.

CLICK HERE TO READ Part 2 – Rest & Recovery

CLICK HERE TO READ Part 4 – Fueling

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Coach Scott's Credentials: He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 17th half marathon race. 

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