What to expect during a marathon

This weeks Marathon Monday is about what to expect during a marathon.  Hopefully this will answer some of the questions you may have but have not really thought about them.  Remember every marathon is a different experience and the littlest things could be the difference between having a great race, good race, bad race, or not even finishing the marathon.

While drinking fluids during the race is very important it is possible to drink too much.  Drinking more than one loses during a race can decrease the concentration of sodium in the blood and cause a condition known as hyponatremia.  This condition can result in vomiting, seizures, coma and even death.  The International Marathon Medical Directors Association issued a warning in 2001 that encouraged runners to only drink when they are thirsty, rather than drinking ahead of thirst.  This doesn’t mean you can’t hydrate before the race just be careful.  If you urinate and it is clear in color you are hydrated.  If the urine is dark start drinking.  A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found out women are more prone to hyponatremia.

A 4 plus marathoner should drink 4-6 ounces every 20-30 minutes without fears of developing hyponatremia.   If you drink sports drink or eat salty snacks it will also reduce the risk.  But be careful drinking sports drinks some runners experience stomach problems after consuming them.

The first thing is to start out slow you have 26 miles 385 yards to run.  What feels easy at mile 3 will not feel easy at mile 23.  At the end everyone will be slowing down but if you went out easy enough in the beginning you will be the runner passing others that are walking.  The clock will tell you the pace is slower but mentally if you are the one doing the passing (not the runner getting passed) you will feel good.  Going out to fast in the beginning could result in you “hitting the wall”.  I will discus that subject in more detail next week.   Most marathons have a maximum allowed time of about 6-7 hours only  because they have to open the streets up for traffic.  The larger marathons keep the course open for runners for 8-9 hours.

Common courtesy for runners during a marathon especially the larger ones is important.  If you are walk/running stay to one side leaving the middle of the street open for faster runners.  If you are running in a group try not to block the entire street.  This will only irritate runners that are tying to pass.  Some coaches/ books recommend only running two or three across.

Next weeks Marathon Monday topic will be “the wall” and gycogen.


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