Miami Marathon Homestretch, Race Day, and Recovery Tips
Can you believe it? The Miami Marathon is just a few weeks away!
Some of you probably just groaned thinking about all of the road closures. But if you’re one of the 20,000 or so runners signed up for this year’s race, you’re probably starting to feel the excitement—and maybe more than a little bit of nervousness.
We get it! We love our runners (we see a ton of them at Omega Medical Group) and we want to do everything we can to make sure you’re feeling healthy and ready to go on the big day—and that you don’t wreck your feet or body in the process!
Here are some quick tips to get you through the big day with grace and get back on your feet quickly afterward.
The Final Weeks of Training
No doubt if you’re signed up for the race, you’ve already been training for a while now. (At least we hope so! A typical marathon training program should start a minimum of 12 weeks before race day.)
Still, the last few weeks can be especially nerve-wracking, because there’s a delicate balance you’re trying to achieve:
- Making sure your body is as ready and conditioned as possible for running your best on race day.
- Making sure you don’t injure yourself mere weeks—or even days—before the main event.
You can probably see the tension here. Pressing yourself too hard on the first goal may increase your risk of failing the second.
Well, we have good news here. In truth, going your hardest right up to the end of training is actually a pretty bad idea, and not just because your risk of injury increases. If you’re fatigued and burned out right before the race, it’s hard to do your best.
Instead, most runners should actually be reducing their mileage in the last three weeks running up to the race. This is called tapering, and although it sounds counter-intuitive, it’ll actually make you faster.
And no, you do not need to run a full 26.2 miles in one go before race day. In fact, most experts say that you shouldn’t. Your longest long run during training should only ever be about 20 miles. Don’t worry that you won’t be able to make it on race day—your adrenaline will carry you.
Remember that while physical exertion is a crucial first step, it’s the recovery period afterward that actually makes you stronger and faster—your body builds itself back up to a point beyond what it was before. If you keep training full blast, the strain and damage you do to your muscles never really gets to heal before race day.
What does this look like in practice? Well, if you’ve been training properly to this point—and you’re reading this blog on the day it was posted—you should probably be nearing the end of your highest mileage week, with your last “long run” sometime this weekend.
We should also say that now, a few weeks before the race, is the perfect time to make sure you have a good pair of running shoes that will still be in good shape by race day. A decent pair of running shoes will only have an effective lifespan of 300-500 miles or so, and you don’t want to have to replace your trusted pair a few days before the race (or, alternatively, run in worn out shoes).
Next week, cut your overall mileage down by about 15 to 20 percent. Continue decreasing so that in the week before the race, you’re only at about half of what you were doing during the peak of your training. Skip the weight training the last week, too.
You don’t want to taper too much, or you’ll feel sluggish on race day. But with the right balance, you should be able to maintain your fitness AND give your muscles the rest and rejuvenation they need to put in a great time on the big day.
The day before the race, you should temporarily ignore the latest dietary advice and load up on carb-heavy foods, like pasta, bread, rice, or even yogurt. That should give you a nice reserve of fuel to burn through. But don’t overeat!
Also, remember to check your toenails and make sure they’re neatly trimmed–
On Race Day
Make sure you eat a good (but relatively small) meal a couple of hours before the race. Again, go high-carb, low fat, and a bit of protein. Coffee is okay, but be careful to drink in moderation—caffeine can serve as a mild diuretic, meaning it can make you more likely to need a bathroom break at an inconvenient time in the race.
Make sure you’ve got all your essentials packed in your race bag, including your bib and timing chip, energy snacks, sunscreen, watch, and even anti-chafing products. Depending on the weather the morning of the race and how long you’ll be waiting at the starting village, you may also want to take some warm clothes. Just remember you may not want to carry them with you, or may not be able to get them back if you leave them at the start, so go with cheap and disposable!
During the race itself, there’s probably a ton of things going through your mind. That said, one of the most important things to focus on (if you want to avoid a post-race crash or injury) is to stay hydrated. Listen to your thirst and take advantage of the water stations!
After you cross the finish line, you might be tempted to just plain collapse. However, this is a bad idea! You need to cool down and bring your heart rate, body temperature, and adrenaline down more gradually. A sudden shift from running to a standstill can cause your body temperature to drop too rapidly, or even cause you to faint! So keep walking until you cool off—and if they give you a space blanket, take it!
Make sure you get another snack within another 30 minutes of finishing the race in order to replenish your energy reserves. Bananas, energy bars, sports drinks, or even chocolate milk are great options.
Then, take it easy for the rest of the day. An ice bath at home or the hotel room, if feasible, is an awesome option. But if that’s not feasible, at least enjoy a lukewarm bath or cold shower.
The Days Ahead
You’re going to be sore for a couple of days. That’s pretty much a given. Some of the soreness will be delayed-onset, too, so don’t be surprised if things don’t start hurting in certain places until even a couple of days after the race.
Obviously, check your feet for obvious signs of damage, like blisters or black toenails. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort walking after the race, please give our office a call so we can take a look and help you get back on your feet quickly.
You may feel a little depressed for about a week after the marathon—that’s pretty normal. For one, the thing you’ve been building toward is over, now what? For two, training and racing itself may have led to some temporary changes in brain chemistry. Go easy on yourself, practice good self-care, and it should pass away soon. If you’re still feeling down a week after the race, seek medical attention.
It’s also normal to gain a couple of pounds in the days following the race due to water retention as your muscles repair themselves. Don’t panic! Just eat a good, balanced diet with lots of protein and nutrients and get plenty of sleep.
The full return to intense running and training is different for every person. Many people take as many as four to six weeks before starting up training again. Some take even longer. And the recovery is as much emotional and mental as it is physical. Listen to your body and take it slow. In the meantime, change things up and try some low-impact activities like biking or swimming for your fitness.
Let Us Help You With Your Foot Care
As we said, the team at OMG can help you with all aspects of your foot care, both before and after the race.
We specialize in sports injuries, regenerative medicine, and foot care treatments with an emphasis on keeping you active and helping you recover as quickly as possible. We even offer Clarix Flo, an advanced option popular with world class athletes that can rapidly accelerate the natural healing and tissue regeneration process. Even if you come down with severe pain just a few weeks before the marathon, there’s a great chance we can get you back in race shape before the big day!
So if your feet are hurting, give us a call. You can schedule an appointment with our team by dialing (305) 514-0404. We’d love to help you meet your goal and keep you moving!