It’s time for another Austin Sports Medicine 101 class! We’ve reached our fourth and final set of race day preparation tips. Read on and get excited for your big run!
13. Drink early (and late). When you’re aiming for a fast marathon time, every ounce of fluid you consume helps maintain the blood flow to your skin (for cooling) and to your heart and muscles. Since running hard slows the absorption of fluids from your stomach, you need to begin drinking early to have the fluids become available later. If you expect to run four hours or slower, be careful not to over-drink and develop hyponatremia. Drink when you are thirsty, and stop drinking if your stomach becomes uncomfortably full of fluids.
14. Use some gel. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and other good stuff, but gels provide a more concentrated source of carbs that can prove especially helpful in the last half of the marathon. Some experts recommend carrying four gel packs, and taking them at miles 10, 14, 18, and 22 during a full marathon.
15. Draft off someone. The drafting effect isn’t as strong in running as in cycling, but it’s still there. Tucking in behind someone during a long race is considered a more efficient running style by many. Just be courteous and don’t follow too closely, or better yet, agree to take turns leading so you’re working together with the person.
16. Don’t charge the hills. The goal in marathon running is to maximize your efficiency over 26.2 miles. That’s why drafting works. And it’s why running hard up the hills doesn’t work. From an energy-output perspective, you gain more speed by putting your effort into the flats than the hills. When you’re on the hills, just relax. Don’t worry about those people who are passing you. You’ll make up that ground later.