Pre-race and Post-race Tips for the Newbie

Pre-race and Post-race Tips for the Newbie
From Runner's World
- "Ask the Running Doc"
Dr. Lewis G. Maharam is the world’s premier running physician.

As for pre- and post-race tips, I thought it best to review how you should/will feel, and what you should do when you finish.

Running or walking a half or full marathon distance is not a walk around the block. Even with the best of training, you will not feel “normal” at the finish. Of course you will have done the salt, drunk for thirst, taken a baby aspirin, and run/walked within your limits so nothing physiologically is “wrong.” You will feel tired -- exhausted, even -- and your muscles and feet will ache from the repetitive exercise you have performed over hours on race day. Expect this. Think of it as “getting your money’s worth”!

“Nothing new” race weekend means nothing new as far as eating, clothing, and exercise that you practice during your training months. To prevent or really lessen post-event muscle soreness, follow these guides:

Practice proper eating in training the the night before your long runs/walks make sure you include protein with the carbs, a little fat and only a little roughage (so it doesn’t haunt you race morning!). Do not make your plate at the pasta party look like your “last meal”; make it look like your regular night-before training meal. Your meal the night before should not only be pasta; add some protein to have necessary amino acids on board for recovery.

No new shoes or clothing for race day. Be sure everything is worn in, and not too old, by race day. We want to prevent blisters and chaffing.

No new stretches or stretching out. Make sure you have a good flexibility routine and don’t have someone teach you something new race weekend. Stick with what you have been doing. One month out, you should be in the same routine for the race.

During training, if you have a new ache or pain, get checked by a sports doctor early so it doesn’t mushroom into something that will not allow you to do your race. If you develop new chest pain or shortness of breath during training, please go to the doctor and be checked before your event.
Practice only drinking for thirst and drinking the sports drink that will be on the course of your event; check the event web site to find out what sports drink they will be serving.

The day of your race, eat the same as you do on long training runs/walks: same food, same number of hours before. You may like to try my favorite pre-race meal in training: the “Elvis Bagel” (peanut butter and banana on a bagel). This gives you some protein for muscle/ligament/tendon repair as well as carbs and energy for the event.

Do not take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Advil, ibuprofen, Aleve, Motrin, etc.) from the night before and during the race, as they are a risk for hyponatremia. If you must, take Tylenol (acetaminophen) during the race -- only as prescribed on the bottle.

If you develop a pain that changes your running form -- or if you just don’t "feel right" -- stop at a medical station for a quick evaluation on the race course. Our medical teams are there to help you.

After the event, within 2 hours of finishing, have a recovery drink with protein in it. There are commercial products but chocolate milk works as good as all these scientific mixes. Time to indulge if you like it.

“Marathon feet” are common to get in the middle of the night post race for first timers. Participants complain their feet hurt so much, they can’t even put a comforter over their feet. This again is due to inflammation of the soft tissue structures and easily preventable. When you get back to your home or hotel room, a simple immersion in an ice bath for 15 minutes will prevent this happening to you!

Post-event muscle soreness is an issue everyone complains of the next day. Follow these tips to lessen the ache:

Do not get a post event massage until a minimum of 2 hours after finishing the race. The lactic acid needs a chance to buffer to a neutral pH before it gets moved around. And even then, do not allow any “deep tissue” work for a minimum of 72 hours since the muscles/ligaments/tendons are all still inflamed and friable and deep tissue work can give more

Do not try any new stretches or have someone stretch you out again until 72 hours have passes to allow for those soft tissues to heal and not be injured more.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (again: Advil, Motrin, Alleve, Ibuprofen, etc.) that we told you not to take during the event, can be taken after you finish and have urinated once. By then you are no longer at risk for hyponatremia that these meds can help cause. These meds do reduce inflammation and if they don’t bother your stomach can be taken as recommended on the bottle.

If you feel really sore the next day, besides cool showers and NSAIDs, see your sports doc for an inection of Torodol. This is an injectable NSAID that is so powerful, it has the pain-relieving effect of morphine without any narcotic side effects. It is a miracle injection; you will feel great within 2 hours of the injection.

Give yourself two or three days of rest before starting your training again. Try a nice swim in these days, but allow yourself some recovery time. You will feel better for it.

Again, congratulations. We hope to see you at many events in the future.


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