All Season Tips-It's Always The Right Time
by Stephen M. Pribut, D.P.M.
All year long there is someone or actually groups of people thinking about and training for the marathon. Collectively, there is no longer a "down" season. The budding flowers in April, remind us that the Boston Marathon is almost here and then like most flowers it is gone and time for another marathon to blossom. Even before Boston, people are preparing for the New Orleans Marathon or the Disney Marathon. With dozens of marathons to choose from, it never ends.
Having spent years treating marathoners, and after both working the sidelines and running marathons, I’d like to review a few tips for the incipient marathoner.
“...One of the most common mistakes is buying a new pair of shoes too close to the marathon... ”
One of the most common mistakes is buying a new pair of shoes too close to the marathon. Make sure that you leave yourself adequate time to break in your shoes before either running a long run or the marathon in them. You should have at least 75 miles on your shoes before wearing them on the big day. Don't wear new socks or other new clothes on race day. From your socks to your singlet, all of your clothes should be broken in and comfortable. If you have had any problems with blisters, hopefully you’ve figured out to avoid cotton socks and go for a wicking material such as Coolmax.
Training is part of your preparation for race day. Make sure you leave yourself adequate time to taper from your last scheduled long run. Usually the taper time is 3 to 4 weeks. Don’t try to squeeze in one too many long runs and not be recovered before marathon day. The hard work should be done well in advance. You won’t benefit from trying to run too long or too fast within the 3 weeks before the marathon. You’ll more likely injure yourself and not make it to the start line.
If you’ve been slowed by an injury, don’t try to make up time and distance in the last few weeks. Make sure you follow the taper schedule you had planned to follow.
Pack up everything you need a few days in advance of the race. Gels for during the race, post race snacks, towel, and a change of clothes. You don’t want to think about what you’ll need the night before the race.
- Wear shoes that you’ve had good success with and shoes that are broken in.
- Make sure the rest of your clothes are also comfortable and broken in also including your sports bra or other sports underwear, shorts, singlet, sweats and socks.
- Use broken in Coolmax socks or another “wicking” fiber for all of your runs and on race day.
- Taper adequately before the race. Your last long run should be 3 to 4 weeks before the race. Cut back or cut out your weight training in these last few weeks before the marathon.
- Try to get adequate sleep over the last month so your body can be as well recovered as possible from all the training you’ve been doing.
- Eat healthy throughout your training. Don’t overeat or drink much alcohol on the night before your race. Do eat a carbohydrate rich meal for a few evenings before the marathon.
- During cold weather, wear outer layer clothes you can throw away as the race goes on and you warm up. If you are going to be at the race line early, dress warm for the morning chill, and be prepared to ditch your outer layers as the race draws near or as you go along and warm up.
- Use the same fluid replacement and gel that you’ve practiced with on your long runs. Beware of under hydration and over hydration. If you are running for longer than 4 hours, consider using weighing stations if your marathon has them available to attempt to avoid hypernatremia.
- Remember to go out slower than you think you should so you can have a negative split and not burn out somewhere before mile 20.
- Figure out where some of those cameras will be taking your photo so you can look good for your marathon portrait. If there are shuttles, know where they start and stop.
- Make sure you know where to meet your friends or family after the race. Make all travel arrangements in advance.
- Don’t forget after the race that you should rest about one week before running again and then “reverse” taper.
“Figure out where some of those cameras will be taking your photo so you can look good for your marathon portrait.”
Things To Bring:
- Race number and safety pins. Pin this to your clothes two nights before the race.
- Running Shoes and all your racing clothes
- D-Tag or other timing device.
- In the cold: Extra layers and extra Clothes to toss. Long sleeve T-shirts, sweat clothes.
- Change of clothes for after the race.
- Money for emergencies.
- Body glide, if you’ve used it for areas that rub on previous long runs.
- Your own food for after the race in case the race runs low.
- Plastic container of water or sports drink to drink before the race
- Toilet paper to carry in your carry-along, in case of emergency.
- Very light weight, miniature camera if you don’t expect to win.
- Throw away reading material for the long wait before the race.
- Metro, bus, or other transportation ticket, if you'll need it.
About Dr. Pribut: Dr. Pribut is a member of the Advisory Board of Runner's World magazine. He has run in races from 200 meters to the marathon. He is a past president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM). He served as chair of the AAPSM Athletic Shoe Committee for 5 years and has served on the Education Committee, the Research Committee, the Public Relations Committee and the Annual Meeting Committee. He is co-Editor of the AAPSM Student's Manual. Dr. Pribut is a past president of the District of Columbia Podiatric Medical Association, serving in that post for 4 years. Dr. Pribut served on the American Podiatric Medical Association's Clinical Practice Advisory Committee and Internet Committee. Dr. Pribut is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at the George Washington University Medical Center.
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