Practice your hydration plan before race day

Summer Sanders discusses the importance of setting goals as she prepares for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.


I used to be a pro at fueling. When I swam, I was really smart about staying hydrated. Now, as a mom, I pour a glass of water after a long run, and then often disappear with the kids. I leave the house and find my glass of water still sitting just where I left it hours later. That is not OK, so I'm making a conscious effort to get better at sticking to a hydration plan.

I bought a great, fancy fuel belt with all the little bottles for my Chicago Marathon training. But I lost it and refused to get another one. Instead, I got comfortable running with a bottle in my hand. Now that's my M.O.

Since I often run local routes, I know where all the fountains are around town. I refill my small bottle as needed, which is particularly important during my track workouts and long runs. I can't make it through a long run without refilling a few times, but I don't want to carry all the weight of extra bottles.

I tried wearing something on my back while I ran with more water, but it wasn't for me. I didn't like all that pressure on my body. But what works for me, may not work for you; test different options to find a good solution for yourself.

You should also consider the forecasted temperature for your race. If you'll be running in a spot that's warmer and more humid than where you live, like I will be on Feb. 24, you'll need to practice with a fueling plan that includes more water and sports drinks than you use at home. If you plan to wear a fuel belt or carry different bottles, you have to train that way during your long runs. Don't wait to find out that your belt chafes on race day; otherwise, your fueling plan goes out the window.

Use the lesson I learned decades ago from my swimming coach (and had nearly forgotten): Hydration is a powerful tool for your body. I knew to always bring a water bottle to swim practice. In fact, we had to keep one at the end of our lane to be allowed to swim. A lot of people think that because you're in the pool, surrounded by water, it's not important to hydrate. We were sweating in there, more than we ever realized because we were working so hard without getting out of the pool.

Don't just rely on your senses. Hydration is tricky; it can fool you. Do everything you can to avoid being reactionary. Make sure you drink before you start feeling the effects of dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty or get that mild headache, your body is already depleted. Get ahead of the game by drinking water in the morning as soon as you wake up and throughout the day. Stay hydrated all the time and you'll be fueling your body for all your workouts.

Summer is on the hunt for some new running sneakers to wear during Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24; tweet her at #GoRun to share your favorite kicks so she can find the perfect pair. You may even see her wearing them for her race!

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