If you're running, not being properly hydrated can affect you in a variety of ways - none of them positive. It can be dangerous to jog, or especially race, with less than optimal amounts of fluids in your body. Fainting during a race on a potentially hard and sharp surfaces can be a very bad thing - especially considering you're usually surrounded by other runners that literally have metal spikes on the bottoms of their feet.
Drink Enough Water!
I run in the afternoon, so its not too hard for me to hydrate prior to running as I have the whole day to do so. If you have a race in the morning, it is definitely a good idea to wake up a bit earlier than you would to get an ample amount of fluids in you. This also gives the advantage of being able to eat earlier - something that your stomach will be thanking you for later, during that 5K.
I bring one of the nalgene type of water bottles shown below to school, and drink it throughout my classes before practice at 3:00.
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I will typically go through about 1.5 of these a day. However, I'm pretty light - this number if going to vary for the individual. A good way to go about getting the right amount is to simply bring a nalgene to work/school and drink from it whenever you have the urge to. I find that I will drink considerably more water if I have it sitting right in front of me rather than if I have to go find a drinking fountain. Sometimes I won't even really feel that thirst, but still find myself taking a sip. Short story: it's going to be better for you and easier to drink the right amount of fluids if you hydrate gradually throughout the day instead of splurging during breaks or at lunch.
My Experiences: KingCo Preview
I started bringing the 1L Nalgene I discussed earlier after the KingCo Preview in early September. At that race I got a time that I really didn't care for, and I also felt like shit the last mile or so. I was wheezing so badly at the end that other runners actually asked me if I was okay during the race. This was obviously pretty embarrassing.
Our first season meet was going to be at the same course the next week - Lincoln Park. After the Preview, I started bringing the Nalgene to school and drinking a lot more water. Come race day of the next week, I was hydrated. My time for that race was about 30 seconds faster than that of the preceding week. Proper hydration definitely makes a big difference.
In conclusion, just don't forget to drink water. Never force it down your throat - instead give yourself easy access to fluids throughout the day. You'll see the results. I know I did.