Not just a horse race: UofL Physician offers tips for KDF Marathon runners

Not just a horse race: UofL Physician offers tips for KDF Marathon runners

Jonathan Newsom, MD, CAQSM

It’s Derby season in Louisville, which means it’s time for the annual Kentucky Derby Festival Mini/Marathon. The race will begin at 7:00 a.m. on April 30, passing through both Belknap and Health Sciences Campuses at the University of Louisville. After an in-person hiatus due to the pandemic the race will be returning to normal activity. The School of Medicine asked Jonathan Newsom, M.D., and faculty member of our Sports Medicine Fellowship for some preparation tips for our runners.

Q. What tips do you have for a first-time marathon runner to prepare for the race?

A. First and foremost, enjoy yourself! Marathon training is a very taxing and time-consuming endeavor. You absolutely want to enjoy training and when race day comes, trust that you have put in the work necessary to finish. You’ll need to trust your body and start slow. If this is your first marathon, give yourself time to find your stride and pace so you can get yourself to the finish line. It’s also very important that you fuel your body properly during training as well as race day. Marathon running requires a great deal of energy from the body, and this will need to be available through food and energy stores.

Q. How can runners best avoid injury pre- and post-race?

A. Be sure to listen to your body. If something is hurting, take a rest day. If the pain is persistent, see a physician or physical therapist to be evaluated. One solid strategy to avoid injury is to incorporate cross training into your race preparation. It’s a great way to increase overall fitness and use other muscle groups to avoid overtraining. It’s also a good idea for you to have rest or recovery days built into your training plan and using those days to allow the body to recover. Lastly, be sure to stretch regularly and use different recovery modalities such as a foam roller or massage gun.

Q. How would you recommend runners prepare the night before?

A. Eat a good carbohydrate-rich meal the evening before and focus on hydrating your body if you haven’t already. Pack your gear and get everything ready for the morning so you have one less thing to worry about on race day. Then, get plenty of rest! You’ve done the work, now it’s time to perform.

Q. Okay, the race is finished. What tips would you share for someone to help recover after the race and the days following?

A. Eat something. After a marathon, your body is depleted of its energy stores, and a key part of recovery is replenishing these stores. If you have the energy, try to do an easy cool down like a jog or walk. Also, be sure to stretch and re-hydrate! Ensuring you are properly hydrated will speed your healing process. Your muscles will be sore, but getting a head start on recovery with stretching will help you down the road.  Finally, get off your feet and relax. YOU DID IT!