I've heard that it's a good idea to walk through the water stations during a marathon. Why do people suggest this and what do you think? Should I try this strategy?
- Bjorn Ostman
We've heard this too. The theory is that it allows you to have a certain timed rest every couple of miles or so - a way to get a rest, but make sure that it's not too long.
Personally, I think this is a bad idea for two reasons:
First, I think it tends to be dangerous to those around you (and to yourself) to just stop and walk in front of the water tables. It tends to get jammed up there in any case, and there's no reason to add to that chaos and risk someone running into you.
Second, I think it tends to slow you down (and others) unnecessarily.
Instead, I try to gain time over other mid-pack runners (even those who don't walk) by running past the beginning of the water stations, aiming to pick up a cup of water (or power-drink) at the far end of the tables. Through experience I've learned that by dong this you can miss most of the congestion and save a few seconds at every water station - which could equate to a minute over the marathon (and every minute counts).
As for wanting to walk at certain intervals during the race - this may be appropriate for you or some people. But try this (instead of walking at the drink tables) - set an agreement with yourself that you will walk for exactly x seconds (the amount's up to you), either at every mile-marker or every x minutes. This will give you all of the advantages of scheduled walks, but allow you to miss (and not add to) the chaos and congestion at the water tables.
If you think you need to walk to be able to drink the water - then you're not using the right technique: grab the cup, turn your hand so the palm of your hand (with the cup in it) is facing towards you, squeeze to make a 'V' in the cup towards you and then pour the water into your mouth through the spout.
Good luck, keep running and keep hydrated!
- John Elliott
The founder of MarathonGuide.com, John tries to run through every water station and has even been known to run through restaurants from time to time.