Race Tip: At the Aid Station
It’s not as convenient to carry fluid and nutrition on the run (though there are many good products out there to do just that). But if you don’t need to carry something specific, then the aid stations will be there to provide fluid and some nutrition like gels and pretzels for the longer races.
Even though it seems straight forward to grab a cup of water when you run, you might be surprised at the issues they can cause. Again, you should know what’s going to be at the aid station and where they will be along the course from the race meeting/website/packet.
As it is critical to stay cool and hydrated on the run, Here are some tips to navigate the aid stations out there.
1) Don’t stop at the first cup. Move a little farther down unless all the volunteers ahead are full…a person behind you might run into you.
2) Make it known what you want. The volunteers are most likely yelling what they have, so again, yell what you want, make eye contact/ point to the person, then grab the cup.
3) Practice drinking! Drinking from a paper cup while running takes some practice. It’s easiest if you pinch the top closed then sip/drink through the gap. This is a skill, so it might take a few races to practice.
4) Keep the path clear once you have what you need. Be aware of the other people around you. If you choose to walk through an aid station, be cautious of the people around you. Once you grab your cup, move slightly to the left so that other runners have access to the volunteers with the fluids. If you skip the aid station, move even slightly further to the left.
5) Don’t stop in the traffic flow. You might get run over. If you do need to stop for any reason, move off the course. The volunteers are there to help you so let them know if you need anything specific.
6) Be aware of getting splashed and splashing others! If you decide to toss your cup and there is still liquid in it, try to make sure there is no one behind you, as you might end up dousing someone with gatorade. They won’t be too happy. And if you are running, be wary of passing someone on the right in case they toss their cup. Same goes with splashing water over your head to keep cool – make sure it’s your head that the water ends up on!
7) Toss the cup close to the aid station. As with the bike, make sure you are getting rid of any wrappers or garbage as close to the aid station as possible. You don’t need to throw it in the garbage can there (though if it is easy to do, that helps keep the course clean), but don’t toss it a half-mile down the road.