Northwestern Medicine physician stresses the importance of early preparation
The 35th running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will bring 45,000 runners to the city on Sunday, October 7. Northwestern Medicine® emergency and sports medicine physician George Chiampas, DO, will serve as the Marathon’s medical director for the sixth consecutive year, and will lead a team of more than 1,400 medical volunteers from Northwestern Memorial Hospital as well as numerous hospitals and healthcare schools statewide to oversee the health of race runners. While the medical team will tend to injuries or emergency situations that may occur, Chiampas offers tips to help runners have a healthy marathon experience.
“Running 26.2 miles takes a considerable toll on the body,” said Chiampas, who is an emergency medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Runners should prepare appropriately in the days leading up to the event.”
Chiampas recommends runners focus on the following as they prepare for the race:
Pre-race nutrition is critical as the 26.2 mile run drains the body’s resources. The 48-72 hours and evening before the race, enjoy a meal full of protein and carbohydrates and do not consume alcoholic beverages.
Get a good night’s sleep
Make sure to follow a regular sleep schedule during the week leading up to the race in order to get plenty of rest. This will guarantee you are well-rested in case pre-marathon jitters prevent you from sleeping the night before you approach the starting line.
Check the weather
Chicago meteorologists are predicting cold temperatures for this year’s race. Although it may feel cooler in the morning, it will feel 10 or more degrees warmer once you get going, and temperatures will rise throughout the day. Make sure to dress in layers so you’re able to shed clothing as needed. Participants should listen for the Event Alert System (EAS) tips that will be sent out via the Marathon with directions should the weather become dangerous.
Benefit from breakfast
About two hours before your start time, eat a high protein breakfast combined with a good balance of carbohydrates and fat while avoiding sugary foods.
Stick with what you know
One of the biggest mistakes marathoners make is trying to change their routines on race day; it’s best to stay with what’s familiar. Wear clothes and shoes you’ve worn on long runs before and don’t try any new foods or drinks.
Oftentimes, the excitement of the race causes racers to get off to a faster start. This will hinder a runner’s performance and can lead to health issues during the competition. Instead, running at an even pace is most efficient and safest, but be prepared to adjust your pace if weather conditions change.
Both dehydration and over-hydration can pose serious threats to runners. Hyponatermia, a condition that occurs when fluid intake exceeds your rate of fluid loss from sweating, results in abnormally low blood-sodium levels. When this happens, the body’s water levels rise and cells begin to swell. Race participants who experience symptoms of nausea, dizziness or disorientation should seek medical attention immediately.
After crossing the finish line, be sure to stretch thoroughly and ice any areas that are sore. While you celebrate your accomplishment, eat a meal that is high in protein to help repair muscle damage and start your recovery phase.
As a Level 1 trauma center in close proximity to the race route, Northwestern Memorial is among the first-responder hospitals for race day emergencies. Emergency department physicians are prepared for the potential added volume of patients while Chiampas will manage medical needs along the race course.
“The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is an event that draws thousands of participants and volunteers and over one million spectators who partake in race day activities,” said Chiampas. “We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable experience and know that we are here if they need us.”