Getting what you need from a water station?

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Jane Cotter
Austin Fit Walking Program
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Some say it’s best to start with the finish in mind. Imagine yourself with a huge smile, arms in a victory V, and gliding weightlessly over the finish line of your race. Do you see the strength left in your step? Do you see the large water dribble down the front of your chest? Water dribble? Who wants water dribble in their victory picture? But, you know that if you want a victory picture, you must stay hydrated during the race. You need the water IN you, not ON you.

Race planners do their best to provide for your hydration needs. Water stations are available along the route. Some races also offer a sports drink at some stops. This is great until you try to get the water in your mouth while you’re moving and it lands on your shirt. If it’s a hot day it might feel good, but it won’t get those water molecules to the cells that really need them.

The water chute, the area of tables covered with partially filled cups water, manned by cheering volunteers, can be like the grocery line. You wonder how do I get what I need, fast? Most races have more than one table set up at a stop. The one at the far end will have lots of water and few people. Head for that table, stick out your arm, and grab a cup from the table or the hand of a thoughtful volunteer. Smile, say “Thanks!” and keep on moving along the route. You’re golden, except, the water is still in the cup, not in your mouth.

You’ll find that if you try to drink the water from the cup that you’ll slow down to sip or you might open your mouth and fling the contents towards you mouth hoping for a bit to drop in. You may have success with either method, but the simplest way is to grab the cup between your thumb and your pointer finger and pinch the cup into a V, forming a crease. Pour the water into your mouth like water from a pitcher into a glass. You don’t have to stop, slow way down, or risk the water-dribble ruin of your victory pic.

A few extra hints about water stops: They usually have places for “water out” as well. If you stop at each and every water stop you may spend about as much time at the portable potties as you do on the race route. Pay attention when you train to how much water you consume and use that as your guide. Try to grab a cupful before you are thirsty, and have a few sips. The weather the day of the race will influence how much you drink as well. Pay attention to your body, and if it tells you to sling the whole darn cup over the top your head, do it! Just make sure to spike your hair for your finish line photo.

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