How to hydrate, nourish oneself during a race?

While good physical preparation is of course essential for race performance, it’s not the only factor to consider if you want to cross the finish line fast and in the best possible conditions.
So while you need to take on board the right food and hydrate before and after the race, you mustn’t forget to take provisions with you during the actual race. The longer the race is, the truer this becomes. 

Staying hydrated during a race
During a race, the body loses a lot of water, both through perspiration and breathing. So it’s essential to hydrate well before the start but also and especially throughout the race. Because dehydration isn’t just bad, or in some cases dangerous, for your health, it also affects performance, accelerating fatigue, causing headaches in runners who tend to suffer from them, and significantly increasing the risk of cramps. To stop this happening, we strongly recommend taking small sips of water every twenty minutes or so, without waiting until you feel thirsty.
For a long race, like a marathon for example, you should find feeding stations located regularly along the route. But for shorter races, or when you are training outside an organised event, you need to take a bottle with you, which could also be specifically designed equipment, such as a waterproof backpack with a tube. Once you have several races behind you, you should be able to work out the amount of water you need.

Nutrition during a race
If you have eaten well before the start, your body’s energy stores normally last longer than its water reserves, and you don’t always need to take food with you for a run of an hour or less. The fact remains, however, this kind of physical effort obviously uses a lot more energy than normal, and for a longer race, such as a marathon, eating well before the race will fall well short of requirements. With predictable consequences: calorie-starved muscles will quickly show signs of fatigue and finishing the event might prove very difficult.
There are several ways to avoid this. You can take energy and/or sugary drinks as well as water to recharge your batteries, but you should carry solid food with you too. Watch out though – digestion also uses energy, which your legs sorely need. So concentrate on rapid sugars that don’t make too many demands on your stomach. A lump of sugar, dried fruit or energy bars are therefore particularly well suited.
As with hydration, don’t wait until you’re hungry or low in energy to eat: taking on board sugar and nutrients every 30 minutes or so is a good habit to get into, and should make the last kilometres of the race a lot less insurmountable.