The New Rules of Marathon Nutrition

Avoid hitting the wall in your next marathon by rethinking your nutrition plan. Photo: Scott Draper/Competitor


Old Rule: Drink plenty of water before your marathon.

New Rule: Drink plenty of water and a little beet juice before your marathon.

Every runner knows it’s important to hydrate before the start of a marathon, but it’s easy to go overboard. You don’t have to drink a lot to achieve full hydration after a night of sleep, and any excess will only force you to wait in long toilet lines before the start and — worse — stop for bathroom breaks during your marathon. Limit morning of, pre-marathon fluid intake to 24 ounces and don’t drink anything in the final hour before the race begins.

Here’s another suggestion: Instead of drinking water before your marathon, drink beet juice. Why? Beet juice is packed with dietary nitrates, which help blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow to muscles during exercise. Studies have shown that drinking half a liter (about 17 ounces) of beet juice two to three hours before running can enhance performance.

Take-Away Tip: See if beet juice helps you by testing it before some practice runs. A word of caution: Don’t try it for the first time on the morning of a marathon.

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