On Sunday, October 9th, around 40,000 runners will take the streets of downtown Chicago to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Others, like this particular blog writer, will be cheering from the side.

As any runner will tell you, staying hydrated is an essential part of any long run (especially when most of your training runs take place during the hot summer weather). Dehydration can have a draining effect on your race day; you could experience cramps, dizziness, chills, heat stroke, increased heart rate, and a slower running pace — nothing you’d want to experience when you have 26.2 miles of road stretching out in front of you.

Running a marathon when you're dehydrated is impossible

Throughout your training, you’ve probably perfected your strategy for how much water you drink and how frequently you drink it during long runs. But what about the days leading up to the race, or even the morning of? Here’s how to plan your hydration for a successful race.

The week before the race

You’re in full-on taper mode, and when you’re not running as long or as hard as you have been, you might think you don’t need as much water. Well, you’d think wrong. In fact, the week leading up to your marathon is the most important time to be hydrating more than you might think is necessary.

“Staying hydrated throughout the week prior to a long run has been key for me during training,” explains Leif Melvin, our Digital Marketing Analyst who will be toeing the Chicago Marathon start line for the second time.

So, it makes sense that in the week before your longest long run, you’ll need to stay supremely hydrated. Our solution? Make your reusable water bottle your constant companion this week, so you can hydrate at each meal and at regular intervals throughout the day.

“I keep a water bottle at my desk and next to bed at home. I bookend days with a bottle of water and drink throughout the workday,” says Leif.

Choose one with volume markings to help you keep track of how much you’re sipping throughout the day, and aim for at least half your body weight in ounces (for example, if you weigh 150lbs, drink at least 75oz of water per day).

Some people find they drink more throughout the day if they have a straw to sip from. Figure out what works for you, and then attach that water bottle to yourself for the entire week.

The day before the race

Keep up with the healthy hydration habits you’ve established this week by taking your BPA-free water bottle with you to the race expo, your pasta dinner, and anywhere else you find yourself the day before the race (but be careful not to tire your legs out too much!).

At dinner, aim for about 16 ounces of water (about two glasses) as a way to top off your hydration tank that you’ve been filling all week. Avoid dehydrating beverages like alcohol, as well as any caffeinated drink that may keep you up at night when you need to get a good night’s rest.

The morning of the race

As soon as you wake up, drink a glass or two of water. Your body just went several hours without drinking any water (unless you have a weird sleepwalking habit that we don’t know about), so you’re naturally a little bit dehydrated. Remedy that by drinking about 16oz of water in the morning before the race.

After the race

You did it! You survived the marathon (hopefully without any blisters or busted toenails). Now, you get to enjoy recovery.

Recovering from a marathon like...

Immediately after the race, help get your blood sugar back to normal by rehydrating with water and a sports drink (read the labels to ensure that your drink of choice is low in added sugars and has electrolytes to aid recovery even more). If you can, try weighing yourself immediately after the race to get an idea of how much fluid you lost during the marathon and how much you’ll have to replace. No scale? No problem. Your best bet is just to start sipping right after the race. Avoid guzzling large amounts at once, which might upset your digestive system after such a draining event. Instead, take small sips consistently throughout the rest of the day.

In the days after your big race, while you’re still hobbling around and avoiding stairs, continue to drink regularly from your reusable water bottle. At this point, it’s probably become second-nature for you to carry a water bottle during the day — you’ll be in great shape when it comes to staying hydrated for your next race!


Do you have any other hydration tips for the week leading up to a marathon? Will we see any of you rocking the Chicago Marathon course? Good luck out there, and stay sipping!

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