Whether you are running your first race or prepping for the New York City Marathon, to avoid injury it’s smart to focus on race-day safety in advance of the event.
Nurse practitioner Jasmine Travers, who is pursuing an advanced degree at Columbia University School of Nursing, advises runners to avoid cramming in too many training miles the week of the marathon, and concentrate instead on drinking enough fluids to improve overall hydration on race day.
Travers, who will volunteer at the medical aid station at the finish line in Central Park at the 2014 New York City Marathon, offers runners the following tips for running injury-free.
- Slow and steady: Even if you feel strong at the starting line, resist the urge to run faster than your training pace, Travers says. “Running too fast is one of the main causes of injuries on race day, especially for first-time marathoners.” In addition to cramps, blisters, strains, and sprains, runners can risk stress fractures and more serious injuries from overexertion.
- Drink, but not caffeine and alcohol: Coffee dehydrates you, and alcohol does too. Alcohol can also prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. “Ensure you stay hydrated in the days and weeks before the race – it will help your body stay better hydrated during the marathon,” Travers says. Drink as needed during the race, but only when you feel thirsty. Too much water can cause cramps, nausea, headaches and other symptoms that will make it hard to cross the finish line.
- Eat, but not too many calories: Sure, you’ve seen elite athletes binge on pasta and protein before competition. But if you’re like most runners, this isn’t for you. If you add more carbs to your diet in the days before the race, just don’t add extra calories. “Overeating or consuming too much fatty food before the race can cause cramps, and eating too much roughage can cause diarrhea,” says Travers.
- Don’t run through pain: You may be able to run through some muscle aches and sore bones, but don’t ignore pain during the race. Sharp, sudden pain may signal a sprain or stress fracture. Inexperienced runners are also prone to stomach cramps and nausea, both of which can signal more serious problems. [At the New York City Marathon] starting at mile three, there are medical aid stations every mile along the marathon route. “Stop and get checked out. In a lot of cases the medical volunteers along the route can help you get back on track to finish the race,” Travers says.
What do you think of these tips? Have any of your own to add? Please share in the comments!