Keck Medicine of USC wants your marathon experience to be a healthy one. Check out these tips for running your best race!
Medical Director, ASICS LA Marathon
PREPARING FOR THE RACE COURSE: 10 TIPS FOR YOUR BEST RUNNING EXPERIENCE
By Dr. Seth Gamradt, Director of Orthopaedic Athletic Medicine, Keck Medicine of USC and Team Physician, USC Athletics
You have trained for months running the streets of the city but few marathoners train on the race course itself, and it is difficult to simulate race conditions prior to the event. There are a number of factors to consider and plan for when it comes to race day. Here are 10 tips to help you improve your ASICS LA Marathon experience.
Logistics: Know and double-check your plan for parking. Also, calculate your travel to and from the ASICS LA Marathon start and finish lines. Don’t let a pre-race traffic snafu compromise all of your hard work and training. Allowing adequate time for warm-up and stretching will ensure a good start.
Fuel: It is critical to fuel your body before the race. Eat high carbohydrate meals (80 percent of intake) for several days prior to the race to build up your store of glycogen, a crucial energy source for your body. On the morning of the race try to eat a 500-800 calorie breakfast 2-3 hours before the race. Limit fiber to avoid mid-race gastrointestinal upset. Predictability is key: eating foods you know and that worked well on your long training runs is critical for a calm stomach and high energy on race day.
Shoes: It seems obvious, but avoid changes in equipment on race day, especially shoes. Wearing your tried and true runners will help to prevent the foot pain and blistering that are common in long-distance running.
Hydration: Before the race, pay attention to urine color, aim for light yellow as a sign of adequate hydration. Although sweat rates vary from runner to runner, a good guideline for hydration is 6-8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. Avoid over-hydrating, which can lead to stomach upset. Make sure your race-day hydration consists of energy drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes and water. Consuming water alone during the race can lead to hyponatremia, which is caused by dilution of the blood’s sodium level and can be very dangerous.
Energy Gels/Bars: Commercially available pre-packaged carbohydrate sources are an important fuel source in triathlon and distance running. Again, familiarity is key to avoid race- day stomach upset, so stick with energy snacks you’ve consumed during your training. Consume one 45-60 minutes (with water) after the race starts and every 45-60 minutes thereafter.
Lubrication/Skin Protection: Lubricate sensitive areas with anti-chafing, anti-blister products. Believe it or not, severe blistering or chafing can end your race prematurely. For sun protection, apply sports sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA rays at least 30 minutes before running, and consider wearing sun protective clothing made specifically for running.
Pace: The adrenaline of the race start will lead to the possibility of starting too fast. Begin your pace near or slower than your typical pace from your long training runs to avoid a late race flame out.
Temperature: There can be a significant temperature increase during the race from cool at the start to warm (even hot) at the finish. Pay attention to race-day weather forecasts and consider layering your clothing to accommodate temperature fluctuations. Most importantly, wear what has been comfortable for you on long training runs.
Pain: You may experience pain, soreness, muscle ache and fatigue on race day from training. If you typically take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs – Advil, etc.) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) before training runs, do not change this on marathon day. However, if you have not been using these over-the-counter medications, race day is probably not the time to experiment.
Danger Signs: As mentioned, some soreness is expected on race day. However, if you begin to experience sharp pain with each step, swelling in a joint, escalating pain anywhere in your body or you begin to limp, it is not advisable to push through these types of symptoms and finish the race. In addition, confusion, light-headedness, chest pain, and shortness of breath all can be signs of a significant medical issue—seek medical attention immediately.
Completing the ASICS LA Marathon is an important goal you have set for yourself. Make sure you do the things on race day that support the training you have done up to this point and you will have the best opportunity to hit the finish line feeling like a winner!
Source: ASICS LA Marathon