Keck Medicine of USC wants everyone to have a healthy, safe marathon experience. Volunteer physicians, nurses and staff from Keck Medicine of USC will be ready to assist you on course with any medical difficulties.
Tips for Your Best Running Experience
Dr. Chudnosfsky, MD, medical director, Los Angeles Marathon
Being ready for race day means more than just training. Here are 10 tips to help you improve your Los Angeles Marathon experience:
Fuel: Pre-race nutrition is critical. Limit fiber and eat high carbohydrate meals (80 percent of intake) for several days prior to the race, and a 500-800 calorie breakfast 2-3 hours before the race. Eat foods you ate while training to calm your stomach on race day.
Shoes: It seems obvious, but avoid changes in equipment on race day, especially shoes. Wearing your tried and true runners will help to prevent the foot pain and blistering that are common in long-distance running.
Hydration: A good guideline for hydration is 6-8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. In addition to water, make sure your race-day hydration consists of energy drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes — water alone can lead to hyponatremia, which is a condition in which the amount of sodium in the blood is lower than normal. Hydration stations along the marathon route have been strategically located to assist you in your hydration efforts.
Energy Gels/Bars: Stick with energy snacks you’ve used during your training. Consume one 45-60 minutes (with water) after the race starts and every 45-60 minutes thereafter.
Lubrication/Skin Protection: Protect your skin with anti-chafing, anti-blister products and apply UVB/UVA sunscreen at least 30 minutes before running. Consider wearing sun protective clothing.
Pace: The adrenaline of the race start will lead to the possibility of starting too fast. Begin your pace near or slower than your typical pace from your long training runs to avoid a late race flame out.
Temperature: The temperature can increase significantly during the race. Consider layering your clothing and most importantly wear what has been comfortable for you on long training runs.
Pain: Training may lead to some pain on race day, but it is best to stick to your routine. Take over-the-counter medications as normal, but don’t experiment on race day.
Danger Signs: Don’t try to push through sharp pain with each step, joint swelling, escalating pain or limping. Get medical attention if you are experiencing confusion, light-headedness, chest pain and shortness of breath beyond your normal runs.
Planning ahead for race day will give you the best opportunity to hit the finish line feeling like a winner!
Post Marathon Recovery Tips
By Katherine Gibson, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Family Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC
While preparing for your next race, don’t forget to integrate proper recovery into your training. Whether it is your first long training run or your 50th Marathon, training for and completing a 26.2 mile run is an incredible achievement! Recovery starts as soon as you finish your run, first celebrate your achievement and take the proper steps to recovery.
First Few Hours
Keep Moving- walking around for at least 10-15 minutes. Keep warm - change into warm dry clothes and shoes. Quick Calories – refuel with liquids containing carbohydrates and some protein. As soon as your stomach can tolerate food, start eating. Bananas, yogurt and other easily digested high-carbohydrate foods. Drink plenty of water. Care for Muscles and injury -- Check for blisters or muscle strain and seek out help. When you get back to your hotel, consider an ice bath.
Stay Active - Light walking, swimming or exercise bike. Late in the week, consider a short, easy effort run (30 minutes). Continue Quality Foods- Eat lots of fruits, carbohydrates and protein. Self-Massage- Light massage with hands or a roller will help loosen your muscles. Deep massage at the end of the week for injured areas.
Run short and easy. If things still hurt – keep cross-training.
No soreness– 3-4 runs keeping the effort easy and the distance shorter (30-60 minutes).
Run longer and a little faster. If you are feeling good, in week three ease back into distance at low to moderate intensity.
After running for a number of hours, one of the best ways to facilitate recovery is to keep moving. Keeping your body moving for about 20 minutes after the race has finished can help muscles cool down. It is important to keep moving through the finish line area. Hot Walkers will be available to assist.
Once the race is finished, continue to drink sports drinks or fruit juices, in addition to water. These drinks will help replace electrolytes and carbohydrates lost during the race. It’s important to properly hydrate before having any celebratory drinks.
Eat a small snack of carbs or protein within an hour of completing the race. Snacks will be available at the finish line. This snack will help replenish your energy and repair muscle tissue. Later in the day, eat a sit-down meal with protein and carbs to help muscles rebuild and recover.
Rest is essential for allowing your body to completely recover after a race. Get as much sleep or rest as possible after the race.
Your recovery isn’t complete when race day is over. Continue with these tips for the next two weeks.
Go for a run
If you’re able, go for a one- or two-mile run the day after the race. A slow, short run helps your muscles stretch and recover.
Resist energy bars
Post-race is the time to take a break from energy bars and gels. At meals, replace those items with fruit and vegetables.
Avoid long-distance running
Competitive, long-distance races should be avoided for at least two weeks following the Marathon to allow for proper recovery.
It’s not uncommon to have some aches and pains after you finish a marathon. If the pain persists after the conclusion of the race, seek medical attention from one of the onsite medical staff members. In the day and week following the race it may be important to:
Apply ice Take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever Indulge in a sport massage
Contact your doctor if pain persists
If you need more extensive medical assistance, our volunteers — in conjunction with various emergency medical agencies along the course — will transport you to the nearest hospital for care. If for some reason you cannot complete the course, transportation to the finish line is available for you to collect your belongings and rejoin your group.
Please remember that while every effort will be made to assist runners, our medical stations will be offering first aid only and may be crowded. We strongly encourage that you prepare appropriately in order to have a rewarding marathon experience.