Marathon Running FAQs
You've got questions, and our experts have answers! These frequently asked questions and answers will inform, educate, and motivate you in your marathon training.
Do you have a general question for one of our sports medicine experts? Ask us on Twitter, and we’ll do our best to provide a timely answer, or check back often as we add more Q&As.
Q: What are some things I should remember when running in inclement weather?
Q: While training for a marathon, what should I eat and drink?
Leslie Bonci, RD, MPH, LDN:
If you want to be successful on race day, practice fueling your body now. This means getting used to drinking plenty of water and sports drinks during your runs, even in the early stages of training. Practice swallowing in gulps, not sips. One hour before a long run, have fruit, a handful of trail mix, or a bowl of cereal. Post-run, try for a carb/protein combo, like low-fat chocolate milk, a sports bar, or Greek yogurt with fruit.
Foods high in carbohydrates
will help increase energy. Good choices for carbs include bananas, whole wheat English muffins, a whole wheat pita, whole grain cereal, brown rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables oatmeal, or energy bars. Be careful not to load up too much, as this can cause an upset stomach and cramping.
In the weeks and days leading up to the race, increase your fluid and carb intake. However, don’t try anything new or different too close to the big day. Your body needs to adjust and be comfortable with the hydration and nutrition
it has been receiving.
Q: I’m considering transitioning to barefoot or minimalist running. Do you have any helpful tricks or tips?
Q: What are the pros and cons or barefoot versus shod running (with shoes)?
Q: How important is rest and recovery during marathon training?
Q: What are some tips to improve my performance on race day?
: Whether you’re a novice or season runner, proper warmup and stretching is the most important thing you can do to get your body ready for 26.2 miles. Gone are the days of stretching in place. Rather, dynamic warmup is the gold standard in race day preparation. Dynamic warmup is basically stretching while moving, and helps increase blood flow, oxygen, and range of motion.
During the race, remember to use proper technique and form while running. Maintain good posture, and follow through with each stride. If you experience any discomfort or cramping, don’t be afraid to slow down or walk it out.
One other thing we can’t stress enough is to fuel and hydrate your body, both during your training and on race day. Consider using nutrition gel packets during your training runs, and take advantage of every water station the day of the race.
Q: After I finish the marathon, how can I get the most out of my recovery?
Aaron Mares, MD:
Running 26.2 miles is no easy feat for your body. Jump-start the marathon recovery process
as soon as you finish the race. If you feel ill or injured at the finish line, ask someone to escort you to the medical tent.
Continue to drink water, sports drinks, and other liquids after the race. Move around periodically to remain loose, and sleep and nap as much as possible after the race. Rest is vital to allowing the body to repair itself.
Aches and pains are a normal part of marathon recovery. If pain continues or worsens, take the recommended dosage of an anti-inflammatory pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) at least six hours after the race is over. If you continue to experience pain or stiffness for more than several days after the race, contact your doctor or a sports medicine specialist for a medical evaluation.
Q: I’ve been dealing with pain in my kneecap. What are some reasons a runner would experience this type of pain?
Q: What are some steps I can take to help prevent anterior (kneecap) pain?