For those of you curious as to the status of “Running Dog,” my sincere apologies for the comatose state of the past few months. As is so often the case with one-man (or woman) shows, life intervenes, and frequently projects, labors of love, etc… take a back seat to the realities of day-to-day living.
Happily, I can now announce the resurrection of our blog, as well as the addition of some of our most talented team mates to help us move things along and incorporate into the new website. With all this in mind, we look forward to producing a first-class communique that will offer much in the way of reporting, health and wellness, and opinion.
Please find below this informative post on final days marathon prep from Whippet runner, sponsor, and wellness consultant, Russ Stram. Russ has been a contributor to the team (and running in general) through his tireless efforts as an athlete, volunteer and health professional. Enjoy! JAK
So you finished your last long run. What will you do now with all your extra time as you taper your training leading up to the big race. The most important thing is to stay calm and rest up.
The body’s stress response system comes in very handy on race day, as adrenaline and cortisol levels elevate, heart rate and blood pressure increase, and we can easily run off the calories from our breakfast. However, considering that most of us already live busy, stress-filled lives, the anticipated race, like a big midterm exam looming over our heads, can be an extra source of anxiety. This extra stress can lead to digestive problems, insomnia or other sleep issues, as well as lowered immunity and greater susceptibility to catching a cold. So relax, you did your homework. Unless you are one of those ultra-runners, (aka marathon pacers, we know who you are) your body took time to get in the shape it needs to run a marathon. For first timers, be as mentally prepared as possible, such as reviewing the course maps or elevation, etc., and talk to someone who did the race.
Getting the body to relax is much easier. In my last 2 weeks before a marathon, I usually line up several massages, get a few acupuncture sessions and take a yoga class or two. This is beneficial for the relaxing effects of the treatments to my muscles, as well as the psychological component of awarding myself for the months of training. If you have any sleeping issues, think about taking a few daytime naps in the week of the race. You are likely to get little sleep the night before, but that shouldn’t impact you on race day if you could sleep ok the previous nights.
What about last-minute injuries, aches and pains? Assuming you have been ruled out for a stress fracture, it may still be possible to recover in time or make an equipment change. Two years ago, I developed sharp leg pain that made it impossible to run on the road anymore, just three weeks before my marathon. In desperation, I got several acupuncture sessions and ordered new sneakers. The new sneakers arrived as I was going to the airport, 4 days pre-race. Two light jogs to “break” in the new footwear and I could run pain-free for the entire race. I am much more careful about how I choose my sneakers these days. But it proves the point that some last-minute intervention can still be wise to get to the starting line feeling your best.
If you do nothing else, the cheapest and easiest self treatment for stress and muscle preparation is stretching. There are lots of opinions about whether stretching pre-and post-race is beneficial and the ways it should be done. However, there is little argument that improving your flexibility is beneficial to limiting your chances of injury. *
Stretching the major muscles of the hips and legs during your down time of training is the perfect opportunity to improve your flexibility and stimulate increased blood flow. If you choose to stretch right before the marathon, don’t risk over stretching too much. As always, warm up well before doing any stretch routine. I have included a picture of my favorite stretch pose, which incorporates elevation of the legs, helpful for promoting improved venous return of blood, as well as a stretch for the hamstring and hip adductor (groin) muscle group. I always precede this stretch with a few minutes of foam rolling at the hip muscles.
Position the roll above your hip bone and below the crest of your pelvis. Roll side to side in a large arc to feel a strong ache at the front, side and back of the hip muscles. In addition, in sitting I like to use a hand roller like the “Stick” or Tiger Tail (a rolling pin from the kitchen is fine too) to roll out the more sensitive inner thigh muscles that don’t need as much pressure to respond. Take several minutes, 2-3 times a day to do the elevated leg stretch. In this stretch, your back is supported while you get a passive stretch at your hips. Hold that passive stretch, 20-30seconds in a wide comfortable “V”. Next, you actively “scissor” the legs together several times and then repeat the passive stretch, trying to go a little farther each time, about 4-5 cycles.
Last year I worked the medical tent #5, just beyond the finish of the NYC marathon. The majority of people were treated for hypothermia. Cramps and muscle spasms were also endemic. I love compression socks, tights, etc. I’ll wear my compression socks (a clean pair) for several days to recover after as well, and it has worked wonders to limit my muscle cramping during and after a race. During the race, we know to dress in layers, but be prepared for body temperature changes, such as keeping your hat and gloves in a pocket for later if needed. The body will take time to recover, but if you want an extra boost, I am offering free 25 minute sessions with the Normatec compression system for the 2 Wednesdays after the marathon. This will be available at the upper Eastside office from 4-8pm, email to reserve a time.
Good luck to everyone running on Nov 2, and thanks to all the supporters!
* If you happen to be in the hyper mobile / overly flexible category, do the foam roller, stick massage and leg elevation, but limit the stretching. Instead, focus on gentle stability exercises your physical therapist may have prescribed in the past.
This post is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Dashing Whippets Running Team, its board, or its captains.