Saturday, February 21, 2009

How to Survive A Marathon

My nephew, "Mike the Tall", who is an experienced marathoner (he's run in the Boston Marathon several times) has graciously supplied me with some marathon survival tips for the benefit of my readers. Here are his tips on how to survive a marathon.

Marathon Survival Tips

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

2. But don't over hydrate!! Hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance, has been linked to several deaths or illness of marathon runners. A recent study showed that 13% of runners in the Boston Marathon had hyponatremia.

3. Fuel. Just like your car or truck, your body needs fuel to run. It's essential in your training to experiment with energy bars, gels, and electrolyte replacement drinks to discover what works for you. After 2 hours of running, your body will burn through any immediate fuel source it has, i.e. glycogen. To avoid hitting the wall, this glycogen source needs to be replenished.

4. Socks. Improper socks can lead to severe blisters after 3 hours of running. Riverwalker's favorite nephew (on this side of the family) recommends thin dry-fit socks, such as Asics Ultra Lite socks. (Dry-fit shorts and shirts are also a must!)

5. Shoes. There's too much shoe technology out there to even try to discuss in this post, not to mention everyone is different. Go to a reputable running shoe store and let their experts help you find the right shoe. Also, keep in mind orthotic inserts for correcting pronation issues you may have.

6. Nipple band-aids! For the men out there, it may sound odd, but nipple chafing is a real problem, especially in cool weather. Use a small spot style band-aid on each nipple and avoid looking like you got shot in the chest twice after your run. If you don't believe me...

7. Deodorant please. You won't notice your own funk, but others around you will.

8. Restroom. Make sure you hit the restroom before you leave your home or hotel, and get in line at the portable toilets as soon as your arrive at the race. I apologize for being graphic, but you must clear your bowels before the race. IBS during a marathon is the great equalizer and will over-ride any conditioning and training you've done.

9. Pre-race meal. The traditional advice is to carbo load for your pre-race meal the night before. Riverwalker's nephew has tried this and found it does not work for him. (It may work for you though!) Don't be afraid of red meat and potatoes the night before. The marathon is a long race and you will need a meal that sticks with you. Favorite nephew's preferred pre-race meal is steak and sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are loaded with
potassium, which will help to curb cramping muscles at mile 20. (The large pre-race meal also helps the next morning with tip #8.) If you want to carbo-load, do it two nights prior to the race.

10. TRAINING. You cannot skimp on your training and meet your goals on race day. Favorite nephew has completed 10 marathons and one ultra-marathon, all at varying degrees of training. You cannot fake your way through the marathon. A lack of 20 mile training runs will ensure you hit the wall at Mile 21 and experiencing cramping muscles like you've never had before.....and you will still have 5 miles left to run! At least three 20-23 mile long runs are necessary to condition your legs.

11. Continue to move forward. No matter what happens after Mile 20, just keep moving forward and towards the finish line. The pain will go away in time, but finishing a marathon will last with you a lifetime.

Good luck in your marathon endeavors.

Moving towards the finish line,

Riverwalker's Favorite Nephew (on this side of the family)

BTW, his sign off was his idea!

Staying above the water line!



HermitJim said...

Very interesting post, RW. Thanks for sharing that info...

Anonymous said...

I am surprise you brought up the nipple thing. Save your money on band aides and just use athletic tape.

riverwalker said...

To: HermitJim

One of the ways my nephew stays in shape is by doing the running thing. I hoped that those out there would be interested in running to help them get in shape may benefit. We try to support each other in our efforts. Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 8:13

I will pass the info along. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

I use the little spot band-aids (generic brand) that are only a couple dollars for a box of 200 or so. Never considered using athletic tape. I guess it might be cheaper, but I will probably stick with the little spot band-aids for convenience.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 9:32

I think the main point Mike the Tall was trying to get across was that some form of protection would be needed to avoid a little misery later. Great tip on the spot band-aids! Seems cheap enough. Thanks.


Mutuelle sante said...

Thanks for the information, this article was highly important for me to learn how to survive a marathon. Regards

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