Runners, rejoice! It is officially marathon season here in the Northeast. Between the New York City Marathon and the Philadelphia marathon, patients have been gearing up for their upcoming feat. Here is some advice to go the extra mile for both the short- and long-distance runner.
Dress the part. Running attire plays a role in having a great run. Breathable, lightweight clothing helps keep one from overheating and sweating. Your sneakers also should be lightweight and fit properly, making sure that the size is correct. There should be a thumb’s width of space between the toes and the end of the shoe. Competitive marathoners should stick to the lightweight trainers that are built in the midsole and heel to provide protection. Many of the elite runners wear flatter shoes. However, these runners are more fit biomechanically, and are more adapted to prevent their bodies from injury. Make sure you have tried these sneakers for one of your longer test runs before marathon day. Choose blister-free wicking socks with reinforced heels and toes.
Prep your feet. Prepare your feet before the big day to prevent running into problems. Moisturize daily with skin cream or lotion to prevent chafing and friction. Also, coating your skin with vaseline or padded tape will help reduce friction. Remember to trim your toenails. I see runners losing toenails when nails are too long. Think short and trimmed with no sharp edges. Similarly take care of corns and callouses. These can also be a source of friction before and after a run. Finally, invest in a pair of orthotics: If you overpronate or supinate, you may benefit from wearing a pair in your running shoes. See your podiatrist for an evaluation for custom molded orthotics to maximize your stride.
Fuel up. Diet is important during training days and then leading up to the marathon. Different studies have shown different nutritional plans. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose and serves as the fuel derived from dietary carbohydrates. In general, runners risk depleting their glycogen levels as a marathon becomes challenging metabolically. Most runners know to load up on the carbs before a race, with a majority of the diet coming in the form of carbohydrates. High-quality foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains will more likely help keep you from “hitting the wall,” so to speak. Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of fluids with adequate rest to be in optimal condition.
Listen to your body. If you are experiencing pain anywhere, pay attention to avoid injury. Run and train with friends or a support group. If you have pain, slow down and allow your body to rest. You can change your training path to switch the routine, but also try to mimic the course so your muscles are used to similar topography of the run. Gentle stretching before the race to loosen up calves, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
Visualize success! You got this. As the day approaches, visualize yourself crossing the finish line. Minimize outside stress, and stick to your plan. Finally, and most importantly, remember to enjoy the experience and to have fun! Celebrate. See you across the finish line!