Warming Signs: Hydration Adjustments For A Warm Boston Marathon

With race day temps forecasted to be in the 80′s, staying on top of your fluid intake is of the utmost importance.  

If you’re running the Boston Marathon on Monday, Lauren Antonucci wants you to stop right now and start downing a sports drink.

Antonucci’s advice isn’t just because she’s a registered dietician and sports nutritionist with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and she’s trying to move product. It’s because forecasted temperatures for Monday’s marathon are as high as 87 degrees. For most runners on the starting line in Hopkinton, race day temps will be far warmer than anything they have faced in training over the winter and early spring. Antonucci says if you don’t adjust your hydration strategy leading up to the race, you could be in for trouble.

2012 Boston Marathon Race Coverage

It’s time to improvise, Antonucci says. “Most people have a plan, but they don’t know what to do if the weather changes,” she says. “They panic, and they don’t adjust. If you understand what to do, that’s going to make all the difference.”

The key to today, Saturday before Monday’s race, is to stay on top of your hydration. Moseying through the expo on the way to get your race bib? Get a bottle of water, Antonucci says, and keep it in your hand. “Whenever they’re walking around or busy or moving is the time they’re most likely to be dehydrated and they’re most likely to forget to drink,” she says. By keeping a bottle of water in your hand, not only are you more likely to drink, but you’ll also be more likely to monitor and refill.

Sports drinks such as Gatorade aren’t a bad idea in these few days before the race, Antonucci says, but be careful not to push these too hard. You’ll need the extra carbs anyway, and the sodium—the most important electrolyte—will help you retain more of the water you’re consuming. “You can drink and pee and drink and pee all day long and still be dehydrated if there’s not any salt in what you’re drinking,” she says.

Don’t worry about feeling bloated or puffy. Antonucci says you “should just feel really good and hydrated.”

You can monitor your hydration progress in the next few days by taking the pee test: you should be urinating every two hours, and the color of your urine should resemble light lemonade, never the color of apple juice.

Increased sodium intake can also be attained by making slight adjustments in your diet. Since most athletes are coming into the city from out of town, they’ll likely be eating out more, which will almost instantly increase your salt consumption. Also, the kinds of things you eat—such as soups—will add more salt. As for Boston’s famous clam chowder, Antonucci says it’s best to save it for after the race.

On race morning, it’s best to start drinking early and often. For coffee drinkers, Antonucci says drink as usual and as planned, regardless of temperature, but be sure to chase your cup of joe with either water or sports drink. Coffee, if you’re already accustomed to it, can be part of the “two to three cups of fluid” she recommends athletes consume as close to wakeup as possible.

Once the race starts and you’re out on the course, you’ll find everything you need.

“If you’re at all unsure [of your in-race nutrition], increase your fluid intake, but from sports drink,” Antonucci says, explaining that the G Series Pro Endurance Formula, the drink available to all runners along the Boston Marathon route, has the same electrolyte profile as the sweat you’re expending.

Don’t let this year’s warm weather conditions prevent you from having your best race on Monday. Make a few intelligent adjustments to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your nutrition and hydration in check on race day.

“We all say nothing new on race day, and while that always goes for running shorts and sock and sports bras, sometimes you have to adjust your nutrition plan on race day,” Antonucci says. “If you’re making changes for an intelligent reason, that is absolutely the right move.”

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About The Author:

Jon Gugala is a freelance writer based in Santa Cruz, California. His work has appeared in Running Times, Runner’s World, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @JonGugala.

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