Preparing for race day

Here at Erlanger Health System we are proud to be the title sponsor for the Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon on March 3-5, 2023.  We look forward to a fun-filled and safe event for everyone. With the marathon fast approaching we asked one of our primary care sports medicine specialists, Dr. Derek Worley, for tips on how participants can prepare for race day.

Cut back on training
One of the first things that participants should think about is tapering their training. A couple weeks before the marathon athletes should cut back on their mileage and incorporate more days of rest into their training schedule. This is important to allow your body time to rest and recover from the stresses of training. Recovery will decrease your risk of injury and fatigue on race day giving you the chance to perform at your best.

What to eat (or not eat)
The week of the race it is important to increase your carbohydrate intake. This is key to refill your body’s glycogen stores, which is energy you will need for race day. 3-5 days before the race athletes should strive to have their meals and snacks consist of 50% carbohydrates. While increasing your carbohydrates, it is important to stick to foods that your body is familiar with. This is not the time to try new things.  

The night before the race marathoners should eat a high carbohydrate meal with small portions of protein and vegetables. Athletes should keep fat and high fiber foods to a minimum. On the day of the race do not skip breakfast. If you wish to have a large breakfast we recommend eating 3-4 hours before race time to allow your body time to digest. A high carbohydrate snack 1-2 hours before the race is ideal for most. Once again your breakfast should consist of foods that your body is used to.

Stay hydrated
The day before the race is the time to focus on properly hydrating. Athletes should drink their normal amount of water the day before the race which is 12 cups for most depending on your size. Before going to bed drink an additional 16 ounces of water. When you wake up on race day drink another 16 ounces of water. Ideally this would be at least 4 hours before the race.  If you don’t urinate or your urine is dark in color consume another 8-12 ounces of fluid about 2 hours prior to the race.

During the race a good rule of thumb is to drink when you are thirsty; however, most guidelines recommend drinking 18-36 ounces of fluid for every hour of running. Keep in mind that this may vary in each individual.  For those who are salty sweaters, sports drinks may be preferred to help replace electrolytes, but try to avoid drinks high in sugar content as this may cause abdominal cramping and increase the likelihood of needing to urinate during the race.

Test your outfit before race day
Race day is not the time to break out your new shoes. Wear shoes that you have trained in but keep in mind that you should change your running shoes every 500 miles.

You should also stick to the same clothing used during training to avoid any discomfort which may prohibit you from performing at your best. Before getting dressed for the big day make sure to apply sunscreen and products such as Vaseline to high risk areas for chafing such as the armpits, nipples, and inner thighs.

Prepare for unpredictable weather
Lastly be mindful that Tennessee weather in March can be unpredictable. If it is cold on race morning, wear top layer clothes that you can discard along the course as it becomes warmer. If it is warm on race day, wear light-colored clothing that is loose and lightweight. When dressing for race day try not to overdress knowing that your body will warm up once the race begins.

There’s still time to sign up to run in the 5k, half marathon, marathon relay, marathon, or kids’ fun run! Register for the Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon 2023 today!