Half-marathon and full-marathon runners' hydration practices and perceptions

Eric K. O'Neal, Jonathan E. Wingo, Mark T. Richardson, James D. Leeper, Yasmine H. Neggers, Phil A. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Context: The behaviors and beliefs of recreational runners with regard to hydration maintenance are not well elucidated. Objective: To examine which beverages runners choose to drink and why, negative performance and health experiences related to dehydration, and methods used to assess hydration status. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Marathon registration site. Patients or Other Participants: Men (n = 146) and women (n = 130) (age = 38.3 ±11.3 years) registered for the 2010 Little Rock Half-Marathon or Full Marathon. Intervention(s): A 23-item questionnaire was administered to runners when they picked up their race timing chips. Main Outcome Measure(s): Runners were separated into tertiles (Low, Mod, High) based on z scores derived from training volume, expected performance, and running experience. We used a 100-mm visual analog scale with anchors of 0 (never) and 100 (always). Total sample responses and comparisons between tertile groups for questionnaire items are presented. Results: The High group (58±31) reported greater consumption of sport beverages in exercise environments than the Low (42 ±35 mm) and Mod (39 ±32 mm) groups (P < .05) and perceived sport beverages to be superior to water in meeting hydration needs (P < .05) and improving performance during runs greater than 1 hour (P < .05). Seventy percent of runners experienced 1 or more incidents in which they believed dehydration resulted in a major performance decrement, and 45% perceived dehydration to have resulted in adverse health effects. Twenty percent of runners reported monitoring their hydration status. Urine color was the method most often reported (7%), whereas only 2% reported measuring changes in body weight. Conclusions: Greater attention should be paid to informing runners of valid techniques to monitor hydration status and developing an appropriate individualized hydration strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-591
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Athletic Training
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Dehydration
  • Hydration monitoring
  • Sport beverages


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