Hydration in Marathon Training-- Countdown to the Boston Marathon

Hydration in Marathon Training-- Countdown to the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is just over one week away, and at this point in time, all participants are winding down their training and looking for some last minute tips to help ensure that they perform their best. 

Using the Boston Marathon as inspiration, our panel of experts, Dr. Rob, Sports Podiatrist and certified muscular therapist Linda Jaros, are back for a third week of training tips to help you prepare for your big race this spring. Regardless of what your “big race” is—a marathon, 5K, or  implementing a gym routine to stay fit-- OOFOS is happy to present some advice to help you do your best. 

This week, both Rob and Linda have tips on the importance of hydration. 


Rob’s Advice:

Modern day athletes are well aware of the importance of proper hydration, but those who are involved in an activity for two hours or more have specific concerns that must be addressed.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, a Family Medicine Physician from West Virginia states “it should not come as a surprise that the right balance of electrolytes is essential for hydration as this is foundational to hydration and rehydration in the medical field.”

An improper intake of fluids and electrolytes could lead to fatigue, disorientation and cramping. An often overlooked sequelae is the effects this imbalance has on the skin and nails of distance runners.

John Vonhof, author of Fixing Your Feet states, “Long periods of physical exercise cause stress to the extremities as fluid accumulates in the hands and feet. Fingers and toes often swell as they retain fluid because of low blood sodium (hyponatremia). This causes foot problems as the soft, waterlogged tissues become vulnerable to the rubbing and pounding as we continue to run.” The results are hot spots, blisters and hematomas to the nails that can lead to pain and loss of toenails.

No longer do medical professionals preach to have a drink at every water station but rather only when thirsty. There are many algorithms as to what to take in prior to and during the event. I caution all my patients to remember that these are only guidelines and to remember that we are all an experiment of one. Each athlete should do their own due diligence and experiment throughout their training so that come race day they are in control of their own body. The one caveat to this is that hydration is dynamic and can change due to effort, temperature and humidity.

Linda’s Advice:

Every time you turn around, there’s another ‘electrolyte’ replacement drink being marketed to endurance athletes. More choices can mean more confusion, as all the sales pitches can be convincing.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that the human body is made up of approximately 70% water. Water is the most important nutrient for your body next to oxygen. It’s vital for protecting our joints, helping proper muscular contraction and relaxation, transporting oxygen to our cells, maintaining proper organ function, and regulating body temperature. Just dropping the water content by 2% can begin to negatively affect these functions. Some early signs of dehydration include:

  • Mouth feeling dry
  • Skin chronically dry
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache 
  • Muscles feeling tight
  • Muscle cramps
  • Urine darker in color (if well hydrated, color is pale yellow)

Avoid electrolyte drinks that are loaded with chemicals, coloring, artificial sweeteners and table sugars. There are great options without all the additives. Make sure to read labels.

My favorite, however, is from nature... pure pink Himalayan Salt!

Not all salt is equal. Table salt is loaded with chemicals from processing and is not good for your body. In fact, it will not help you hydrate and should be avoided (abundant in processed foods). Pink Himalayan sea salt is rich in 83 unique trace minerals. It helps water get transported to your cells so your body can use it effectively. Putting just a pinch of this mineral rich salt in your water can help transport the water to your cells where you need it to support the healthy function of your body. In fact, on those hot days, keep a little pouch of pink Himalayan salt around your waist so it’s readily available throughout your run or exercise!

My top hydration tips summed up:

1. First thing in the morning drink water enhanced with healthy electrolytes before your coffee, during the night your body uses lots of water to assist the body’s recovery efforts.

2. Sip-- don’t gulp-- electrolyte enhanced water throughout the day so your body can efficiently use it.

3. Be consistent

4. Hydrate-- even on the cooler days

5. Limit consumption of too many caffeinated beverages close to long runs and long races.

Finally and very importantly, DON’T experiment with a new electrolyte drink if you haven’t used it in training… you don’t want any surprises on race day!

Drink up!!!


Do you have a favorite drink to hydrate with? What are your best tips to staying hydrated during demanding physical activity? Leave a comment and let us know your best tips!

We’ll have another edition of training tips from Rob and Linda coming soon, so stay tuned!

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