GET 4 Marathon Running Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Breaking Through the Wall FREE from Beth Ann

B.A. Blackwood is the author of the Siren Song trilogy, a trial lawyer, a marathon runner, and indentured servant to her two couch potato pugs, Waldo and Jonesy.

Pickles – Marketing Scam or New Miracle Running Food?

I ran for years without ever having muscle cramps. I’d look at runners contorted in pain by the side of the road and shake my head. Clearly they were doing something wrong. Hadn’t these people heard of weight workouts and adequate salt intake?  I’d run by them with a relaxed, spasm free stride, feeling virtuous that my superior training didn’t subject me to such things.

Poor sucker

Then two years ago at mile 20 of the Scotia Bank Toronto Marathon, my calves began to feel like vice clamps were being screwed down on them by someone named Igor. I made it to the end of the marathon without collapsing, but had to sit and stretch for 30 minutes before I felt able to walk the two blocks to my hotel without a screaming muscle cramp.

What had gone wrong?  My sodium intake, bolstered by salty chips, popcorn, and extra salt on everything had been holding steady for years, so there was no way salt could be a factor. I must have slacked off on the weight workouts. I concluded that my calf muscles had weakened with age, so I doubled my efforts at the gym, doing extra calf weights and stretching them religiously.

It helped. But I still felt a disturbing tightness during the last third of my next marathon. I never developed a full blown cramp, but knew with dead certainty that the if I’d had to run even 100 yards farther than the finish line I’d have been curled up on the ground in a fetal position clutching my cramping calves.

That’s when my man, Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten, came to the rescue. Jason and I are tight. We have a pact. I watch him every Sunday and, in return, except for that one game which was a TOTAL fluke, he plays like a consistent, unstoppable, running machine. Just for me. And millions of other Cowboys fans.

My man, Jason

Jason Witten endorsed Pickle Juice Sport, a drink which claims to have approximately 30 times more electrolytes than Powerade and 15 times more than Gatorade – an iron clad cramp stopper. Could it be that pickle juice could solve my problem?  Or was this just one giant scam perpetrated by the pickle lobby?

I did a little google research. Turns out there are some actual studies to support the claims of Pickle Juice Sport. And you don’t have to buy the drink – you can just drink regular pickle juice.

I even found an article profiling a real live medical doctor, Rick Ganzi, aka Dr. Pickle Juice, who prescribes the following:

Buy a medium sized jar of pickles.

3 Days before the Marathon: Eat 2 pickles

2 Days before the Marathon: Eat 2 pickles

1 Day before the marathon: Sip the pickle juice from the jar

Race Day: Drink all the juice in the jar

Dr. Pickle

So I tried it. The very next marathon, I followed Dr. Ganzi’s prescription religiously. Glugging down pickle juice at 6:00 a.m. is no picnic, believe me, but nothing could stop me in my quest to run cramp-free.

The result? Sheer joy! I ran the entire marathon without the slightest twinge, tweak, or bubble of discomfort in my calves. And it was no fluke. Since then I’ve run two more marathons using the same pickle formula with the same result.

Pickles – the new marathon super food.



  1. Hello there I am so thrilled I found your webpage, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Yahoo for something
    else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a
    remarkable post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the excellent work.

  2. Rick Ganzi says:

    A friend of mine sent this to me, and I have to say I’m honored to be mentioned alongside one of the best TE’s in the history of the NFL! I loved reading your article! I read it out loud at the Grand Rapids Marathon staff meeting last night, and it was very well received. Our social media person wants to link your article to the race’s Facebook page. We’ve been serving pickle juice at the Grand Rapids Marathon for 9 years now, and I hear several stories like yours every year. Last year the race winner in the 2:20’s drank pickle juice and credited it with stopping the cramping he was starting to feel around mile 20! I’ve been a pickle juice user since the 1990’s, and I would never start a marathon without it. Glad you feel the same! 🙂 Rick Ganzi, MD

    • B.A. Blackwood says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and I REALLY appreciate your pickle juice advice. Since I’m usually running a marathon out of town, finding a jar of pickles to complete my pickle juice loading is now always on my checklist of things to do once I hit the marathon destination.

      I’d be delighted to have the article linked to the Grand Rapids Marathon FB page! Happy running! Beth Ann

    • Great article. Now that Dr. Pickle is on board, I have a question…

      I’m one of those marathoners who has been struggling with calf cramping. (It didn’t happen until I hit my 40s, but now it is in the way of PRs.) How much salt is too much salt? I am a 5’2″ female (weight is 115#) and I want to preload with your pickle formula. I assume sodium consumption isn’t a one size fits all and I am worried about being “too salty” if there is such a thing. Also I wonder about having too much potassium during the run. (I would love to use coconut water which is what I train with during my regular longish runs.)

      Great attention to magical pickle juice – thanks for the blog…

      • B.A. Blackwood says:

        I wish I knew! Hopefully, Dr. Pickle will see your post and respond. He’s associated with the Grand Rapids Marathon, so I bet you can track him down that way if he doesn’t reply to your question here.

        Anecdotally, I am about your size, and I’ve never had a problem with too much salt when I’m training for a marathon. In fact, I crave more salt when I’m training, and figure that’s my body telling me it needs some. How do I know I’m not getting too much salt? My fingers don’t get puffy, which they do if I consume something like salted peanuts or sunflower seeds when I’m not running much. So, my observations on my own personal laboratory of a body aren’t scientific, but I offer them just in case they can be helpful.

  3. Hey Beth Ann–

    Thanks for helping to perpetuate the man, the myth, the legend that is Dr. Pickle Juice.

    For the beginning of the story, you can read the original article at

    Thanks for sharing!
    Don Kern
    Race Director
    Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon.

  4. Pickle Juice Sport has 3 Products. We have a 16 oz, 8 oz, & The Super Concentrated 2.5 oz Shot. The Shot is the best for long distance rides or Marathons. I would like you to reach out to us and speak about us sending you samples. Also our product is key that when drinking out of a Pickle Juice Jar research has shown that it can lead to Diarrhea “Dumping Syndrome”. Our Specially Formulated Pickle Juice will not give you the negative affects but will keep you going by Preventing and Stopping Cramps in their tracks.


    The Pickle Juice Company
    Ace Emard

    – See more at:

  5. Neil Clements says:

    Thanks for the great article and information. I came across this page while researching cramp remedies prevention as 6 of my 10 marathons have been marred by cramps including both times in Boston. I used the pickle juice protocol before my marathon earlier this month and ran the easiest marathon to date posting my 2nd best time, 1st time running a negative split and easily qualified for Boston. Whether it was the pickle juice, my fitness or race plan I am not sure I will be willing to not use the pickle juice for my next marathon.

    • B.A. Blackwood says:

      Congrats on qualifying for Boston! I’m so glad that your running is going well, and I’d bet the pickle juice was a least part of the solution. I haven’t had leg cramps since I started using it. Good luck on your future marathons, and thanks for letting me know!