You Can Do It

Mercy Health Tip of the Week by J.A. Smith, DO Medical Director of Sports Medicine Mercy Health North Region

Running a marathon, especially for the first time, is an extremely physically taxing event. It is not easy and preparing for it, depending on your level of physical conditioning, must be well thought out in advance to prevent injuries during, before and after the big race. Here are some tips on how to make it the best experience possible.

Before the Race
We always advocate meeting with your primary care physician for a physical to ensure you are healthy enough to participate in a 26.2 mile adventure. In this visit a physical activity assessment and potential red flags on history are evaluated, and follow-up tests may be ordered. The most common cause of death is a sudden cardiac event. Though many times these cannot be prevented, proper screening may be able to identify a silent risk factor.

During the Race
Proper training and mileage build up is extremely important. If you are unprepared for the physical stressors of a marathon you set yourself up for overuse injuries to muscles, tendons and bones. Though most of these injuries heal with time, without proper training these injuries can interrupt training; setting you up for further injury during the race due to lack of proper conditioning.

In addition, having proper nutrition and hydration are key in pre-race and race day preparation. Please refer to our other tips regarding race nutrition, or seek out a registered dietician’s advice.

The second most common cause of death in a marathon is heat related illness. Our medical teams are expertly trained to deal with this issue at our medical tent. What happens in a heat related illness is the body becomes unable to dissipate the heat from prolonged exercise and your internal temperature rises about 104 degrees F. This is a true medical emergency and must be corrected immediately or brain damage may occur.

After the Race
Take the time to recover. Congratulations you did what only a small percentage of the population will ever do. This doesn’t mean hit the beer tent hard to congratulate yourself, but rather listen to your body and get rest and recover. A cool down series of runs after your race is important to help with muscle recovery.

And remember, if you need to seek out a physician, the team at Mercy Health—Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine is available 24/7 on our sports medicine hotline at (419) 754-PLAY.

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* This content is not intended to replace any formal training plans directed by licensed coaches. You should always get your doctors go-ahead prior to embarking on any fitness regime. Mercy Health, Glass City Marathon and the Toledo Roadrunners Club are not offering this content to replace a monitored training plan. — Use this content as conversation starters with your doctors, nutritionists, coaches, etc.