Five race-day tips for the Chicago Marathon

Chicago Bike Safety Tips

It’s here. You’ve ran mile after mile in preparation for this moment. Consumed countless gels to find the best one for you. And now you’re going to run 26.2 miles through the city of Chicago. Are you ready?

We sat down with Dr. Igor Prus, a board-certified sports medicine physician with Endeavor Health Medical Group, to gather tips on how you can start the race on the right foot. Dr. Prus will be right there with you on race day, volunteering in one of the medical tents placed throughout the race. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Prus, call 773-907-7750.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

By this point you should know your body—including how much to drink and what to drink. Don’t break with the routine. Drink water before you need it, along with electrolyte-rich sport drinks and energy gels that you have tried before and found success with. But also remember not to overdo it. 

“Hydration can go both ways,” said Dr. Prus. “People on the slower side can get hyponatremic at the end of the race if they are drinking at every station.” 

2. Wear the shoes you know and love

Do not switch to new shoes the day of the race. I repeat: do not try new shoes on the day of the race. Choose a newer shoe that you have trained in and put some miles into. It should be adequately broke in, but still offer the support you need to avoid serious injury. 

On that note, follow this rule with your entire get-up. Wear clothes that you have tested and found to be comfortable and supportive. This includes your shirt, shorts, socks, underwear and sports bra. 

“It’s important to know that one running shoe is not best for everyone,” said Dr. Prus. “When choosing a running shoe, you should always consider the individual’s anatomy and running style. Examining the wear pattern on an old pair of shoes can help you determine where and how your feet strike the ground. In choosing a shoe for the marathon, you want a shoe that is broken in but not overused.”

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Sports Medicine Running Tips

3. Stick to the plan

Don’t let the pre-race jitters light a fire under you before you begin. Start slow and stick to a pace you know you can maintain. A controlled pace will help you avoid having to quit the race early due to burn out.

4. Warm up and repeat

To avoid injury, be sure to give your body the warm up it needs. Go for a 20 minute walk, complete a series of dynamic stretches (the kind that allows for fluid movement—no holding a pose) and then do it again and again. Once you are in position, it may be another 20 minutes before your group begins. Stay moving during this time to keep your body from tightening back up. 

“Studies have shown that static stretches that involve holding a pose for 30 or more seconds is best done immediately following exercise,” said Dr. Prus. “Before the race, I would highly suggest you complete a series of dynamic stretches to prevent pain and injury once you start running. This can include leg lifts or swings (both forward and back and side to side), lunges, knee hugs or calf raises.”

5. Eat a carb-rich breakfast

Be sure to eat two to three hours before the start of the race. Something your body is familiar with and tolerates well—a bagel and peanut butter, banana, oatmeal or a performance drink you know and love. Aim for a few hundred calories to give your body the energy it needs to start strong. 

“It is very important to have a high-energy meal, but it has to be similar to what you would eat any other day,” said Dr. Prus. “Consuming large amounts of carbohydrates has the potential to cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal conditions such as bloating and diarrhea.”

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Bonus tip: Have fun and enjoy the experience!

All of these tips are to help you have a successful and injury free race day. Be sure to take in the sights and the atmosphere and enjoy the challenge. And good luck!

Dr. Igor Prus Sports MedicineIgor Prus, M.D., is a board-certified sports medicine physician with Endeavor Health Medical Group. His specialties include diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasonography, ultrasound guided injections, regenerative medicine and physical rehabilitation. He speaks English, Ukrainian, Russian and basic medical Spanish. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Prus, call 773-907-7750.

By David Modica | Published October 3, 2017
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