Marathon Training

September 1, 2012 8:58:04 AM PDT
Dr. Carrie Jaworski, a sports medicine specialist with NorthShore University HealthSystem and endurance athlete herself, says that runners preparing for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon should keep a few things in mind with five weeks to go until the big race.

Staying properly hydrated is particularly important, as is awareness of what to do in the heat. The abnormally warm temperatures at this spring's Boston Marathon showed that even the best and most well-trained runners can have trouble in high temperatures. Now is also the time when injuries start to creep up, so runners must pay attention to their bodies to make it to the start line in October. And after crossing the finish line, runners should be cognizant of their recoveries -- both from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint.

Hydration tips:
- Know your own body's needs. Training runs are great opportunities to find out how much water you need.
- Weigh yourself before and after a run. If you lose weight, replenish. If you gain weight, you are drinking too much.
- Practice with the sports drink that will be on the course. In this case, it's the Gatorade Endurance Formula.
- Monitor the color of your urine. Aim for the color of lemonade, not apple juice.
- During the race, don't drink water at every aid station. You want to avoid hyponatremia or water intoxication.

Tips for running in the heat:
- Wear light, wicking clothing.
- Use the cooling stations and misters.
- Slow your pace.
- Don't forget about sunburn protection! Wear sunscreen.
- Listen to your body. If you're not feeling well, stop!

Common running issues:
- IT band/knee pain: This is a lateral knee pain that is seen as runners reach increased distances. It responds to proper stretching.
- Plantar fasciitis: This common injury involves pain in the foot. Be sure to massage and stretch the affected area.
- Shin splints vs. Stress fractures: Most runners experience shin splints at some point. Don't necessarily assume that your pain is shin splints at this stage in your training. Stress fractures become much more common as you reach the final weeks.

Warning signs of a more serious injury:
- Experiencing pain while at rest
- Swelling
- Worsening symptoms
- Hip pain (common area of stress fractures in runners)

Tips for post-race recovery:
- Rest! Take the next week off. If you want to run again the following week, do a reverse taper. In other words, stick to the training schedule you had the week before the race.
- Get a massage 24-48 hours later. You can expect your body to be sore for about a week after the marathon.
- Refuel your body. You can start doing this right at the finish line. Fill up on bagels, bananas, etc.
- Set a new goal to avoid post-race depression. It doesn't need to be another race!

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