Guidelines for a Great Race – Prevent Pain, Soreness & Promote Recovery
Practice proper eating in training the night before your long runs/walks. Make sure to include protein with the carbohydrates, a little fat and only a little roughage to avoid stomach issues on race morning. Make your pre-race dinner look like your regular night-before training meal. Your meal the night before should not only be pasta; add some protein to have necessary amino acids on board for recovery.
Do not take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, NSAIDs, (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Ibuprofen, etc,) the night before or during the race, as they are a risk for hyponatremia. If you must, take Tylenol (acetaminophen) during the race — only as prescribed on the bottle. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Ibuprofen, etc.) can be taken only after you finish and have urinated once. By then you are no longer at risk for hyponatremia. These meds reduce inflammation and if they do not bother your stomach can be taken as recommended on the bottle.
Do not wear new shoes or clothing for race day. Be sure everything is worn in, and not too old by race day. This will help prevent blisters and chaffing.
Do not try any new stretches prior to the race or have someone stretch you out again until 72 hours have passed to allow for the soft tissues to heal and not be injured more. Make sure you have a good flexibility routine. Stick with what you have been doing. One month out, you should be in the same routine for the race.
During training, if you have a new ache or pain, get checked by a sports doctor early so it does not turn into something that will prevent you from participating. If you develop chest pain or shortness of breath during training, please go to the doctor and get checked before your event.
Practice only drinking for thirst and drinking the sports drink that will be on the course of your event; check the event website to find out what sports drink they will be serving.
The day of your race, eat the same as you do on long training runs/walks: same food, same number of hours before. You may like to try a pre-race meal, like the “Elvis Bagel” (peanut butter and banana on a bagel). This gives you some protein for muscle, ligament, and tendon repair as well as carbohydrates and energy for the event.
If you develop a pain that changes your running form, or if you just don’t “feel right” — stop at a medical station for a quick evaluation on the course. Our medical teams are there to help you.
After the event, within 2 hours of finishing, have a recovery drink with protein in it. There are commercial products, but chocolate milk works just as well.
“Marathon feet” are common for first timers to get in the middle of the night post race. This again is due to inflammation of the soft tissue structures and easily preventable. When you get back to your home or hotel room, a simple immersion in an ice bath for 15 minutes will help prevent this from happening.
If you feel really sore the next day, aside from taking cool showers and NSAIDs, talk to your sports doctor about a possible injection of Torodol, an injectable NSAID that has the pain-relieving effect of morphine without any narcotic side effects.
Give yourself two or three days of rest before starting your training again. Try a nice swim in these days, but allow yourself some recovery time. You will feel better for it.