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St. Louis Rock n Roll Marathon Running Advice

October 13, 2011

In just ten days thousands of runners will come to St. Louis to participate in the St. Louis Rock n Roll marathon. If you are planning on running in that race, how is your training going?

Here are some things to think about before your race so that you stay in top shape and avoid injury.

Start Tapering Now

More than likely you peaked in distance this past weekend and are now slowly tapering down your miles. The only runners who may not be tapering down are the competitive runners who are in professional shape.

However, even for competitive runners, rest is a key to avoiding injury, and studies have noted that it takes about three weeks to lose any performance gains you pick up during your training.

Under training may not be what you want to do if you want to perform at a high level, but it’s wise to slow down, because overuse will lead to injury, and an injury could sideline you. The question you have to ask yourself is do I want to race or risk not racing by overtraining?

Think about this, too: the marathon is not cheap, so if you get injured and can’t race, you may lose out on your entry fee.

How to Deal with Injuries Before the Race

I just met a guy who complained about a pop he felt in his hamstring while out running. He plans on racing in the marathon and wanted to know if he still had time to recover.

A pop in your hamstring usually indicates a hamstring pull. It’s a common injury for football players who will sit out a game or two, depending on the severity of the injury. The runner I spoke to confirmed it was a hamstring pull when he visited his doctor.

Time is the best healer for such a sports injury, but platelet-rich plasma injections for your hamstring injury can help speed that recovery, but I do not think that ten days is sufficient enough time to allow it to heal.

The other concern about PRP injections is the cost. Sure, runners can turn to PRP injections to help heal from injury, but the price could be a deterrent. Talk to your doctor about your options.

If you have a minor injury that you think you can actually run through, you will want to be very careful because a marathon is a long race. It’s long enough that you can severely aggravate small injuries into major injuries and even develop injuries along the way. If the pain gets so bad you can’t run, please stop.

What to Do During the Race

It’s too early to forecast what the weather will actually be like, but hopefully it will be cool in the 40s or 50s. If that sounds too cold, understand that running turns your body into a heat producing machine. In fact, it runs your temperature up about 20 degrees.

So if it’s going to be 40 to 50 degrees on the race track, and since the race is so long, extending over five hours for some people, the temperature can easily rise ten degrees, you’ll want to dress like it’s 60 or 70 degrees. Lots of runners dress in layers and peel off clothes as they get warm.

Also, make sure you constantly hydrate, even if it is cold. The temptation is not to drink when you are cold, but you can still dehydrate in cold weather. By the way, if this is your first race, it’s always a good idea to walk through the water stations. That break will be good for your legs.

Next week I’ll talk about what you should do after the race. Recovery is as important as training.

Dr. Rick Lehman is a distinguished orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri and an articular cartilage reconstruction pioneer He owns U. S. Sports Medicine in Kirkwood, MO, and LehmanHealth. Learn more about Dr. Rick.

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