The secrets to . . .

Negotiating the fluid stops

By Shira Springer
Globe Staff / April 15, 2011

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It happens to the best marathon runners: the missed or mishandled water stop. The cup that’s just out of reach. The sloshing water that finds the front of your race shirt, not your mouth. The time wasted fighting crowds of thirsty runners. But there are some steps you can take to stay hydrated and stay on pace.

PLAN AHEAD: Know where the water stops are, and decide which ones you want to hit. Beginning at Mile 2, the Boston Athletic Association provides water and Gatorade at every mile marker. And the placement of tables alternates sides of the road at all but one mile marker (where trolley tracks make it impractical). The number of water stations eases the anxiety of those unlucky runners who keeping coming up empty.

PATIENCE: Fluid from the end of a water station works just as well as fluid grabbed at the start. To avoid crowds, look toward the back tables or the volunteers between the tables. Try to signal volunteers when you’re planning to grab a cup. Also, since both water and Gatorade are dispensed, look and listen closely. The first three tables provide Gatorade in Gatorade cups, the next six provide water in Poland Spring cups.

KEEP MOVING: The challenge is to run while drinking. Water stops are, ironically, not meant for stopping (just ask someone who’s been involved in a chain-reaction pile-up during a road race). The veteran move is to pinch the top of the cup together, creating a spout to pour water into your mouth. Drink slowly. If you see a trash receptacle, use it. If not, throw your cup to the side of the road, so runners behind you don’t slip on it.


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