Marathon preps

October 5, 2012 (CHICAGO)

While there are plenty of people who trained for the big race, there are others who are amateurs and could potentially harm their body. Dr. Jeff Mjaanes of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush shares suggestions for help runners before, during, and after the race.


Staying hydrated is key to staying healthy and performing well. What to drink is easy - a sports drink is a better choice than water to replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat and to provide energy for endurance. Avoid drinking too much water as this can lower the salt level in the blood leading to serious and potentially fatal hyponatremia (water intoxication).

How much to drink is a difficult question to answer. Unfortunately there is not a "one size, fits all" approach to fluid replacement. The best way for a runner to know how much to drink is to calculate his or her individual sweat rate (by subtracting the post-exercise weight from the pre-exercise weight on several runs). The difference in weight is what needs to be replenished. The sweat rate is as individualized as a fingerprint, so creating general guidelines for all runners to follow is not practical. However, here are some basic rules to keep in mind:

Before the race:

Avoid "hyperhydration" or obsessively consuming lots of fluid in the days leading up to the race. If needed, one should drink a sports drink or eat some mildly salty foods in the hours before the race, but use thirst as your guide. Avoid caffeine as it will increase dehydration.

During the race:

Skip the first couple of water stations. The first 2 stops are crowded, chaotic, and frustrating, if you avoid them, you will be free and clear by mile 3. Don't feel you need to drink at every station or follow the lead of other runners - their fluid needs may be different than yours.

Try to drink to thirst. Although thirst is an indicator that you are already behind on fluids, it can provide real-time feedback on one's fluid status. A rough guide is to aim for 3oz of fluid per mile if you weigh around 100 lbs, 6oz per mile if you weigh closer to 200 lbs.

After the race:

Sip a variety of fluids and nibble slightly salty foods until you feel back to normal. For rapid fluid replacement, if you know how much weight you lost during the race, try to drink 1.5 liters of fluid for each kilogram of weight lost.


-Eat 55-70% of your calories from carbs in the days before the race

-Don't stuff yourself the night before

-Avoid high fiber, high fat foods and caffeine to avoid 'runners trots'

-Stick with foods like whole grains, eggs, beans, salmon, bananas, low fat yogurt, sweet potatoes

-Try energy beans for a safe burst of sugar along the route

-Maintain potassium level by eating a banana at a water stop

-Stick with what worked during training in your long runs. Don't eat something new on race day

-Runner's Goo


Don't slip or trip! Ankle injuries are one of the most common issues seen in the medical tent. Watch for runners who peel off layers as the temperature rises and discard them along the route. Look out for pot holes, discarded water bottles or paper cups and banana peels. Try to get clear of the masses and don't follow other runners too closely.

Don't stop suddenly at the finish line. Often runners stop as soon as they finish the race and then pass out. This is due to blood pooling in the legs but the fall can result in a head injury or getting trampled. To avoid this, make sure to keep moving, keep walking and get to a grassy area.


To avoid injuries, increase heart rate by performing these moving stretches before the race:

-Front and side leg swings

-Walking lunges

-Pike stretch, up and down

Post-race Static Stretching and Cool Down

Focus on calf, hamstring, quadriceps, hip flexor, IT band, lower back:

-Calf: Lean on the back of a chair with one foot extended to the back (NEED CHAIR)

-Hamstring: Lay on your back, lift one leg in air, bend knee and pull leg toward you (NEED MAT)

-Quads: Hold onto back of a chair, bend one leg, hold your ankle and push knee to the floor (NEED CHAIR)

-Hip flexor: Right knee on mat, the left leg is bent in front to steady you. Push out with the right hip to stretch (NEED MAT)

-IT Band: Cross your left leg over your right and lean with both arms over your head to the left. (NEED CHAIR)

-Lower back: Lay on the mat and pull one knee to your chest at a time (NEED MAT). Hold each steadily and don't bounce. Breathe normally.

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