For runners getting ready for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon, or the FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay on May 1, specialists from marathon medical sponsor UPMC Sports Medicine offer these last-minute tips:
Jeffrey Lucchino, sports dietitian, recommends that you maintain your fluid and carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to the race. Taper your training, not your fluid or carbohydrate intake!
- Drink freely the day before the race, consume fluids that you’ve consumed all throughout your training that worked well for you.
- When you wake up, drink 16 ounces of water. Drink eight to 10 ounces of a sports drink about 10 minutes prior to racing.
- Carbohydrates will help keep your brain and body energized throughout the race. Once per hour, you should consume at least 30 to 60 grams of carbs, which could be 8 to 16 ounces of sports drink and/or a sports gel in addition to water.
- It is important to drink fluids during the race. Fluid requirements vary by runner. A good guide is to drink what you drank on your long runs and drink when thirsty. Take small gulps rather than sips. Gulping actually increases the rate at which you digest and absorb the beverage compared to sipping. Drink toward the higher amounts if you sweat moderately to heavily. If you’re a salty sweater, lean more toward the sports drinks that contain sodium to replace the salt your body is losing through sweat.
- Each individual’s fluid requirements can vary. Be sure not to over-hydrate, especially if you do not sweat much. Your body is like a sponge, you can only absorb so much fluid at one time.
- Eat breakfast that contains mostly carbohydrates, keeping you consumption low on protein, and especially your fat and fiber. Bananas, bagels, cereals, oatmeal or energy bars are good picks – all consumed at least three hours prior to the race. Go with what you know and have used throughout your training.
Train With What Will Be Provided
If you plan to drink or eat anything provided throughout the course on race day, Mr. Lucchino recommends training with them early to avoid any discomfort or stomach upset. The following items will be available to runners at the 2016 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.
- To help maintain hydration, water and lemon-lime flavored Gatorade will be provided at every fluid station.
- For extra energy, Honey Stinger Energy Gels are available on the course at Miles 9.9, 12.3 and 20.7, and LÄRABAR Protein Bars are available at miles 15 and 22.2.
- For those who lose high amounts of salt when sweating, snacks such as Herr’s pretzels will be offered at miles 24.4 and 25.4.
- Refreshments also will be available beyond the finish line: bottled water, Gatorade, bagels, cookies, fruit bowls and chips.
Don’t Try Anything New
This is not the time to experiment with new shoes, clothing, food, drink or anything else that you haven’t tried on several training runs, according to Kathleen Nachazel, the Pittsburgh Marathon’s medical operations director and certified athletic trainer.
- Choose the same clothing you have been wearing during your training. Anything new may cause discomfort and prohibit you from running optimally.
- Tie your shoes with a double knot, the better to avoid tripping.
- To avoid discomfort or upset stomach, maintain a consistent diet.
Be Mindful Of The Weather
Spring weather often is unpredictable so be prepared for various weather scenarios on race day. Ron Roth, M.D., the Pittsburgh Marathon’s medical director and an emergency medicine physician at UPMC, recommends the following.
- Be careful not to overdress. At the starting line, you should actually feel a little chilled because your body will warm up a few miles into the race.
- If it is very cold in the morning, wear top layer clothes that you won’t mind discarding along the course as the day warms up.
- If the weather is warm, wear clothing that is light-colored, loose fitting and lightweight.
- If it’s raining, wear a trash bag or disposable poncho at the start line and throw it away when the race begins.
- Be flexible with your performance goals. Running your personal best time when the weather is 50 degrees and overcast may not be achievable if it is 80 degrees and sunny.
Know What To Do On Race Day
Aaron Mares, M.D., sports medicine physician, recommends following these tips before the race to help prevent discomfort and optimize performance during your run.
- Apply sweat-resistant sunscreen to prevent sunburn and Vaseline or BodyGlide to prevent chafing in key locations like armpits, nipples and inner thighs.
- After getting dressed, weigh yourself (this will help to measure your post-race fluid balance).
- Confirm that all contact information on your bib is complete.
- Keep your warm-up brief to loosen your muscles yet conserve energy.
- Address problems early. A poorly tied shoe, chafing skin or a pebble in your shoe could result in injury over time.
- Relax. It is normal to feel nervous the morning of the race. Have faith in all of your hard work and preparation. Feel confident that you can achieve your goals. Enjoy the marathon experience!
Runners can visit the UPMC Sports Medicine marathon-running website for tips on marathon training, preparation and recovery.