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Marathon Race Tips

Posted February 22, 2022 by Nilesh Shah, M.D.

Mom and daughter getting ready for marathon

Just making the decision to run a marathon is a huge achievement. But what are some steps you can take before and during the race to make sure you have a successful and safe run? Here are some recommendations promoted by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Hydration/Avoiding Heat Illness

  1. Drink 8-10 ounces of sports drink 2-3 hours before the race to make sure you are properly hydrated before arriving at the starting line.
  2. 10-20 minutes before the race, drink another 8 ounces of sports drink.
  3. Just before the race, your urine should be the color of lemonade; clear means that you are over-hydrated.
  4. During the race, drink 6-8 ounces of a sports drinks every 15-20 minutes.
  5. Do not drink: fruit juices, sodas, energy drinks, or beverages with carbohydrate levels higher than 8-10%. Also, avoid caffeine-containing beverages, alcohol and carbonation since they can lead to dehydration and increase the risk for heat illness.
  6. If you develop cramps in the legs, stop and try to stretch. Drink sports drinks only. Go to one of the medical tents on the course for help with cramps that do not respond to these measures.

So, what constitutes a good sports drink?

Carbohydrate concentrations of 6-8% (or 14-18 grams of carbohydrate per 8-ounce serving), sodium (about 20-30 meq/liter), and potassium (about 2-5 meq/liter) seem to work best.


  • Thirst
  • Headache across the temples
  • Irritability
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Decreased performance

Seek medical help if you develop these symptoms to avoid more serious problems!


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.