Medical Corner - Race Day Tips
With just a few days to go, race day is almost here and all your hard work is about to pay off! The aim of this important information from the medical team is to provide you with some useful tips for race day and the days prior to it, to help you run a safe race.
- Do NOT try new drinks, foods, medication or equipment (shoes, socks or orthotics) for the first time during the race.
- Running pace: Take your proposed finishing time, work out the average split/km and make sure you don’t run faster than this for the first half of the race. Speed up later if you can.
- At the finish line: Do not stop abruptly, as this could cause blood pooling in your legs, which in turn could drop your blood pressure and may cause you to feel light headed or even faint. Keep walking!
- Fuel: Start ingesting carbohydrate containing drinks as early as possible in the race.
- Fluid intake: The golden rule for drinking during the race is to drink according to thirst. The suggested volume to drink varies between runners, and is also dependent on the temperature and humidity on race day (the volume is more on hot and humid days). Losing some of your body weight during the race is not abnormal. Do not over hydrate as this can also lead to a dangerous condition where you drop the sodium level in your blood (called hyponatremia), which in turn can cause dizziness, confusion or even put you in a comatose state.
- Eating before the race: If you have tried it in training, ingest a small carbohydrate containing meal 2 to 3 hours prior to the start of the race.
- Eating after race: In order to speed up recovery, make sure you replenish your carbohydrate stores by ingesting high carbohydrate foods, which should also contain some protein.
- Cramping: This is a very common condition during and after the race. Run at your normal pace (not at a faster pace), be well prepared for the race, and try gentle stretching for early cramping. Slow down and continue to walk until the cramp is reduced then start slowly again. You can also stop at the next physiotherapy station along the route.
- Injury: The safest option would be to consult a medical doctor or a physiotherapist prior to the race. If you do run with a specific injury, you could possibly worsen it during the race. When you do have symptoms during the race, try to adjust your pace, or walking or stop at one of the medical points along the route and ask for help from the physiotherapists, paramedics or doctors.
- Illness: An important email will be sent to you in the few days before the race about illness and infections. Also, please refer to the previous newsletter for more details on running with illness and infections. Do not run when you are feeling ill (especially if you have fever, body aches, shortness of breath, severe sore throat). Running with certain viral infections can cause damage to your heart muscle, which could be very serious. Running with chronic medical conditions should be cleared by a qualified medical doctor first. Remember you can visit us at the Expo if you have been ill and discuss your illness and intention to run with our medical team.
- If you develop any chest pain, a dull ache, pressure on chest, or any strange symptoms during or even after the race, please stop immediately and ask for medical help or come to the medical tent at the finish line. Do not try to run through this pain as you could be having a heart attack or other serious medical condition.
- Medications: Take your regular prescription medication as you normally do. Do not try new medication regimes or ‘boosters’ during the race. If you are asthmatic and use an inhaler, run with it in your pocket. Remember to fill in all the medications you are taking on the back of your race number.
- Painkillers including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): Research has shown that the use of these mediations during running may cause damage to your kidneys. Avoid taking painkillers or NSAID’s unless you have been told to do so by a qualified medical doctor.
- Alcohol: It is better to avoid alcohol the day before the race. Save the champagne for later!
- Above all, listen to your body and if in doubt get medical help, there is plenty along the way.
Members of the medical team will be at the Expo if you do need any further advice and medical help will also be available along the route – please consult your magazine for exact locations. The medical and physiotherapy tent will be at the finish line, should you require help after the race.
We wish you a great safe race for 2012! The Medical Team