Marathon Tips Often Overlooked
Many people focus on the standard recommendations of “eat plenty of carbs and drink lots of fluids” but miss other smaller factors that can make or break crossing the finish line. I would love to share some information that will not only make your run more comfortable, but also make it easier for your body, as it can be rather abusive to go 26.2 miles!
Here are some tricks for the less experienced:
1. Be lubricated! On my first marathon, at mile 10 my inner thighs were raw and bleeding from the chaffing of my shorts rubbing. Oddly, this did not happen to me during all of my training, so I was unprepared and in serious pain as a result. While you may see an occasional Vaseline board at the fluid stations, it is better to be prepared yourself. Vaseline, or better yet Glide (at running shoe stores), on your inner thighs, inner arms, and anywhere else your bra/clothing/socks may rub will save you from chaffing and/or blisters.
2. Don’t run on the same side of the road! A road has a slight angle to allow for the drainage of rainwater. If you run on the same side of the road the entire race, your joints from the foot up may get too much stress from this slight angle and begin to ache. I have had client’s ankle pain go away instantly by having them run on opposite side of the road for a while. Try to run equally on each side of the road, or straight down the middle, to avoid unnecessary stress to your joints.
3. Easy does it with anti-inflammatories! Ibuprofen and other NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) block things in your body called “prostaglandins” which lead to pain and inflammation. The problem is that these prostaglandins also do other things, which include maintaining blood flow to the kidneys. Taking ibuprofen or Aleive during the race is not a good idea because you already may have decreased blood flow to the kidneys due to dehydration and shunting of the blood to the working muscles. Adding a NSAID on top of it could do harm to your kidneys. An alternative would be Tylenol, which is metabolized in the liver, has no effect on the kidneys per se, and would provide pain relief. But it does not have anti-inflammatory properties, so it will do nothing to prevent you from being sore the next day. You can start the NSAIDS after the race!
4. Pace yourself accurately! Some are just trying to cross the finish line before the sag wagon catches them, while others are looking to make or break a specific time. If you are trying to keep a pace, remember that the race clock starts when the gun fires and it can take several minutes for you to reach the actual starting line, which will mess with your pace if you go by the “official clock”. Wear a watch and start your clock when you reach the starting line, then have the times you wish to be at for specific mile markers written on your arm with a pen. This will help you stay on pace without having to do a bunch of math in your head as your run.
5. Plan for pain! Depending on how hard you push yourself, you might be hurtin’ for certain in the days following the race. Be prepared to take it easy and let your body recover. I tried to get a massage a couple of days after my first marathon and climbing onto the massage table was a huge undertaking. Avoiding physical activity for a few days would be a wise choice.
Completing a marathon is an incredible accomplishment that requires lots of blood, sweat, and tears. Take care of your body the best you can before, during and after the race and then you only need to worry about your biggest obstacle, your mind. You have trained hard, your body is ready, now focus and enjoy the outstanding accomplishment your about to attain. Congratulations in advance.