hydra­tion dur­ing a multi-stage event

One of the most import­ant parts of your pre­par­a­tion for a multi stage ultramara­thon is cal­cu­lat­ing and execut­ing your nutri­tion and hydra­tion plan well.

In this art­icle we will touch on some good strategies to keep your body in good nick.

When tak­ing part in a multi-stage race in a hot coun­try, such as Ultra X Sri Lanka or Jordan, your sweat rate will be high, mean­ing your body will lose a lot of water. Run­ners are rel­at­ively well edu­cated on the risk of becom­ing dehyd­rated but are often unaware of some­thing called hyponatremia. This is some­thing we, as race organ­isers, have seen and are con­stantly aware of.

Just drink­ing water when sweat­ing a lot dilutes sodi­um levels which can­not only impair per­form­ance, but more ser­i­ously upset your body’s elec­tro­lyte bal­ance.

Hyponatremia occurs when the body exper­i­ences a loss of sodi­um (salt), often caused by over drink­ing plain water and sweat­ing heav­ily. As a res­ult of low sodi­um, the amount of water in your body rises and causes your cells to swell, which is prob­lem­at­ic. For­tu­nately, by tak­ing the time to pre­pare for this in advance of the race and devel­op­ing a plan tailored to you we can min­im­ise the risk of it occur­ring.

A good way to ensure that you keep your elec­tro­lytes at the level they need to be is to make sure that you are eat­ing all the food/fuel that you have planned for the day.

Those that struggle to fin­ish their meals or suf­fer from vomit­ing or diarrhoea are far more likely to suf­fer because they are los­ing or not tak­ing in vital salts and sug­ars.

So what is the advice and how can you ensure that you do not run into dif­fi­culty dur­ing a multi-stage?

• Firstly, aim to eat at least 2 well sized dehyd­rated (or sim­il­ar) main meals a day — these con­tain a load of sodi­um and are a great way to boost elec­tro­lyte levels.

• Snack fre­quently on bars, gels and oth­er nibbles while on the move

• Drink small sips of flu­id fre­quently

• Include elec­tro­lyte and/or salt tab­lets in your hydra­tion strategy



It is import­ant to remem­ber that everyone’s require­ments are dif­fer­ent and so there is no “one size fits all” strategy. How­ever, as a guideline see below for an example of a suc­cess­ful hydra­tion approach that has worked at Ultra X Jordan:

Pre-run — Elec­tro­lyte solu­tion such as Pre­ci­sion Hydra­tion 250 sachet

Dur­ing — at every 10km check-point where you will refill your water bottles (1.5l in total):

• 1 x salt tab­let

• Add Elete, or sim­il­ar, Elec­tro­lyte solu­tion to one 750ml bottle (this is fla­vour­less and so tastes just like water)

• Add 1 x tab­let, such as NUUN or High5, to the oth­er 750ml bottle

Post run — 1 x Dior­a­lyte

Plan­ning your hydra­tion and nutri­tion strategy before any race is fun­da­ment­al in pre­vent­ing issues.

Please take the time to devel­op a strategy that works for you.


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