With races well into November, marathon season is hardly at an end. If you are a runner, you are continuing to train, intensifying your routine as the race nears, so as to maximize your success. On the day of the race, you will stand on the starting line with only one thought in mind: completion. However, if you don’t prepare properly
, you’ll never achieve that goal. Your body will crumple under the strain, causing you to cramp, faint, vomit or succumb to exhaustion. In the most severe instances, you may even suffer from heat stroke (yes it’s still a possibility in autumn – just look at Chicago
) or hyponatremia
(sodium imbalance caused by excess water). To avoid the negative effects of long-distance exercise, take the following tips
and run with them:
• Always warm up; always cool down – starting off at a slower pace will reduce heat build-up and allow you to conserve energy for later on in the run. Ending with light jogging or walking, and stretching will lower your body temperature, slowly, and relax your muscles
• Stay hydrated
• Don’t run if you’re hurt – injuries will only worsen if you continue to stress them. Your body needs recovery time after intense workouts anyway, so taking time to nurse an aching joint will benefit you overall.
• Be mindful of your feet – don’t run on your toes and don’t run with worn-out shoes. Your feet are the foundation of your entire endeavor; making mistakes with them is only going to offset a whole bundle of problems.
• Maintain proper body alignment – keeping your head up will keep the rest of your body in check. You’ll be less likely to sustain an injury, and you might even improve your speed.
During the race:
• Dress appropriately – the weather is an ever fluctuating phenomenon. A November marathon could be 30 degrees or 70. Be mindful of the possibilities. But regardless of the temperatures, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Don’t overdo it with food or drink – a huge meal and gallons of water right before a marathon will actually cause more harm than good. On the morning of, consume small, easily digestible snacks, every hour or two, and sports drinks.
• Slow down – don’t let your drive to finish, the other runners or a personal goal push you into overdrive. Keep a steady, maintainable pace. If it’s unseasonably warm, lessening your speed is even more important as heat can render a quick gait deadly.
• If you feel ill, stop – I know that you’ve been training for this for a long time, but crossing the finish line will mean nothing if you’re unconscious seconds later. Dizziness, clammy skin, headaches, chills and goose bumps are all signs that you need to find the nearest medical station.
• Take pride, no matter what – you’ve worked hard for this day. Even if you don’t finish in record time, you still finished. That’s an accomplishment few can boast.