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GU Guide to Boston
Taking part in tradition

Congratulations! The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the world. Unlike most races, runners must earn a spot at the line, a prestigious accomplishment in the world of amateur running. With the race a week away, here’s what you need to know to make the most of your Boston Marathon race experience.

Respect the distance + respect the course

On paper, Boston may look like an easy course. The race is a net downhill, which sounds like a runner’s dream. It’s a point to point course with more downhills than up, and some of the fastest times in the world have been run at Boston! If conditions are good, it’s a place for PRs.

So, why do hundreds of runners finish feeling like they were beaten by the course? 

Don't ruin your race before it starts

Beware of the Expo! Boston is the runner’s playground. The excitement and logistics alone can drain your energy, not to mention getting around the city and navigating all the activities. If you’re not careful, you can leave your race legs on the expo floor.

Save your energy. While the Boston Marathon feels like a runner’s paradise, be weary of how quickly the expo can zap your energy. While it’s incredibly electric, there are ways to navigate the expo without leaving your legs feeling trashed before you toe the line. 

Find booth #446Come to the GU booth! We’ll help make sure your nutrition plan is dialed in for race day, and we’ll keep you hydrated while you explore the expo. Also, we’ll be posting pictures of people’s #flatrunners! Tag @guenergylabs for a chance to be featured on our Instagram feed and win some Hydration Drink Tabs + GU Swag.

Get it done early! To conserve your energy, try to attend the expo as early as possible, so you can prop your feet up for the rest of the day. Take naps, hit the hay early, stay hydrated, and load up on Roctane BCAA Capsules. (While we don’t advise trying anything new before race day, branched chain amino acids can help prevent muscle fatigue. We like to call BCAA Capsules insurance for your muscles!)

Pack your favorite book. Now is the perfect time to become a recluse – start a new Netflix show, read a good book or take up knitting in your hotel room. While the #FOMO may feel real, prioritize muscle recovery for race day and think about visiting Boston when you’re not racing! 

PRO TIP: If you want to experience the full Boston Marathon expo magic, attend the race as a spectator! The expo is awesome, the energy is amazing, and there’s nothing like cheering on throngs of runners on Marathon Monday.

work backwards from your start time

While a 10 AM start may seem luxurious, the late start can be challenge. Most marathons start so early that by 10 am you’re already enjoying your post-race brunch!

  • A 10 am start still means a 6 am bus. Make sure to time your breakfast accordingly, so you don’t get to the start line feeling drained. We recommend packing your usual go-to breakfast foods to consume on the bus or about three hours before your wave is schedule to start.   
  • Push your training back. If your schedule allows, try doing some pre-race training runs at 10 am. When you get into a morning routine, so do your bathroom habits. Giving yourself enough time to adjust before the race can help keep things regular (if you know what we mean).
  • Bring a magazine or book. Since you likely won’t have your phone, you’ll need something else to pass the time that you won’t mind throwing away.
  • Don’t forget to pack snacks! Bring two or three Energy Stroopwafels to munch on while you travel and wait. They’ll top off your glycogen stores without filling you up too much.
  • Sip, don’t chug. Sip water or Hydration Drink Tabs, but don’t overdo it. If you’re well hydrated, 15-20 oz of fluids in the 3-4 hours before you start should do it.
  • Stay in the shade. You might feel chilly, but the sun can zap your energy. This is not the time to work on your tan. 
  • Keep your heart rate low. You’ll have plenty of time get your heart rate up when you enter the corral. But while you’re waiting, keep your breathing steady and your legs still. Practice being mindful and let yourself enjoy all the hard work you’ve put in to get to this moment! 
Be prepared for varying weather

While there’s not much you can do during the race if the weather conditions change, you can be prepared up until the start.

  • Dress appropriately. Make sure to bring layers and alternate outfits that you’re okay losing. Before the race, don’t be afraid to throw clothes away or toss your gloves if you don’t want them anymore. (Discarded clothes and gloves are picked up and donated to a local charity, so don’t feel bad leaving them behind.)
  • Start hydrated. Pre race hydration begins three days before the race, and can be a huge factor on warmer or humid days. Drink 2-4 liters per day (with electrolytes from Hydration Drink Tabs) leading up to the race.

The GU Guide to Fueling at Boston

Keep it simple! The excitement of the race can be a huge motivator, but it can also distract you from your plan. There’s more than one way to fuel a marathon, but the plan below is simple and easy to follow.

What you Need

Calories: 200-300 per hour
Eat one Energy Gel every 30 minutes

Fluids: 20-30 oz per hour
One marathon cup has about 4 oz water


  • 30 Minutes Before → Eat one Energy Stroopwafel to top of your glycogen stores.
  • 5 Minutes before → Eat one Energy Gel in the corral before your wave starts.


start slow and slow down

Even if you think you’re not going too fast, hold back. You want to get to mile 21 as a heart breaker, not with a broken heart

  • All systems check. You’ve made it to the start line and things are feeling good. The last thing you want to do is have your first 10k of the race be your fastest. 
  • Don’t be humbled, be prepared. This is the creme of the crop. Everyone toeing the line had to qualify, so don’t be alarmed to find yourself in the middle of the pack if you’re usually a front-runner. The first mile is downhill so take it easy and remember you have 25 miles to pick off runners who started too hard.
  • “Budget” your race. Imagine you have 100 dollars to spend and every dollar is energy you’re using. Don’t spend all of your money right away! Use your energy carefully and keep in mind the last nine miles are hilly.
  • Set your intentions before you toe the line. Know what your goals are before you get out on the course. Consider setting an A-goal and a B-goal. Your A-goal can be a time or performance goal and your B-goal can be about the type of experience you want to have.

While these tips might not turn you into the next Meb Keflezighi, we do hope they provide valuable insight and inspiration on your adventure from Hopkinton to Copley Square. GU’d luck, have fun, and #GUFORIT!