Q+A: OK - what’s the secret to drinking in a race?

Q This may sound silly, but I have real problems drinking during races. Usually I grab a cup, spill most of the contents as I’m picking it up, get one tiny slurp of water and then spill the rest down the front of my vest. Any tips to help me overcome my drinking problem?

A Here are some simple tips to help you get the most from drinks stations. In big races with drinks on both sides of the road, head to the left – most runners are right-handed and therefore favour the right.

Check how far ahead the water station continues. Sometimes it’s easier to grab at end of the line of tables rather than at the front. It’s a risk though, as you might miss, or someone else could make off with the last drink.

Incidentally, make sure you know what’s in the cup or bottle. If you’re not used to drinking energy replacement drinks, suddenly gulping one down during a race might lead to an upset stomach. Likewise, you don’t want to mistakenly pour one of these over your head to cool yourself down, as they tend to be very sticky!

To ensure you get enough fluids, walk through the water stations and drink as you go. Walking will enable you to drink more than one cup, and you’re only likely to lose about seven seconds per station – which you can make up because you’ll stay hydrated. If you don’t want to lose those seven seconds, you can always get someone to hand you a drinks bottle filled with your favourite fluid. Strictly speaking this could get you disqualified, but unless you’re right at the front, who’ll notice (or really care)?

Finally, be polite. Look behind and around you before heading for the drinks station to make sure that you don’t get in the way of any other runners.

Hal Higdon, RW USA Senior Writer