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Should I Take Salt Before a Long Run or Marathon?


Updated January 26, 2014

Question: Should I Take Salt Before a Long Run or Marathon?
"I've heard about some runners taking salt before a marathon. Is that necessary?"
Answer: When you're running, you lose electrolytes (such as salt) through sweat. Since electrolytes help your body retain fluids and may prevent muscle cramps, you need to replace them when running more than 90 minutes. By drinking sports drinks and eating sports gels or blocks with sodium during your run, you can replace the salt you're losing. You can also do a "salt shot" before you start your run/race. Here's how to do it:
  • Just empty a salt packet (from McDonald's or other fast food place) onto your hand.
  • Lick the salt off your hand.
  • Drink some water immediately after.
  • If you're doing a run longer than 2 hours, you may want to take another one halfway through your run/race.

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