Are you participating in the GRU Augusta Half Marathon and 10K on Sunday?
Hundreds of people will. It’s undoubtedly our area’s biggest running event, even bigger this year because of the 10K option.
That’s good, because a half-marathon is barely one notch below the marathon and triathlon in its intimidation factor.
That hasn’t scared me off, but I’ll miss it this year because of other obligations. Still, if you’re a beginning runner, there’s no shame in admitting that a 13.1 mile or 6.2 mile run, with segments up the steep Walton Way and Berckmans Road hills, might be just a little out of our league.
For those running any race, the folks at the Sports Medicine Center of Georgia Regents University – the presenting sponsor of this weekend’s Half Marathon – offer some helpful tips to prepare for races and avoiding injuries:
• Review the course map. Read the race materials in the participant packet so you know in advance where to drop your gear on race morning, which miles have water stations and where the hills are.
• Fuel up the tank. Eat carbohydrate-rich meals for a few evenings before the race to provide the needed calories and energy to keep you going. Don’t overeat or drink much alcohol on the night before the race.
• Stick to the routine. Race day is not the day to break in a new pair of running shoes or new clothes. Likewise, don’t wear shoes that are worn. The average life of running shoes is about 400 to 600 miles.
• Warm up properly. A proper warm-up can increase the blood flow to the working muscles and reduce the likelihood of muscle stiffness or injury. Additional benefits of warming up include physiological and psychological preparation.
• Stretch. Don’t rush it, and include all joints and extremities. Each stretch should be held in place for about 30 seconds. Proper stretching can prevent strains and other injuries.
• Pace your race. Line up with people who run about the same speed as you do, and don’t start the race too fast. Adrenaline will fire you up and tempt you to surge ahead, but keep your pace steady.
• Stay hydrated. Even if you are not thirsty, drink lots of water. Fluids are also essential for recovery after the race. Be sure to drink a combination of water and sports drinks to replenish lost fluids, sodium and electrolytes.
• Finish strong. Don’t come to a sudden stop at the finish. This can cause your blood pressure to drop too quickly, causing dizziness and even fainting. A slow jog or walk will help you transition safely to a resting state.
• Stretch again and ice down. After you cool down, thoroughly stretch your legs so your muscles don’t get stiff. Icing them every few hours for about 15 minutes at a time will help relieve inflammation and muscle pain.
• Recuperate. Avoid a long-distance runs or intense workouts for about two weeks following race day. Try light runs and cross-training instead, then gradually work back up to higher intensity.
These tips are useful for any race, but they’re especially helpful for beginners. The advice about pace in very useful; it’s easy to get excited at the start of a race, particularly if it’s your first. Don’t be afraid to hold back and let the jackrabbits blast off the starting line; some of them are the ones you’ll be passing later as they gasp, out of gas, halfway to the finish line.
Thanks for reading. I've enjoyed all the early feedback, and very much appreciate the tips and suggestions. Keep 'em coming: email me at email@example.com.
Hit the road!
GRU-Augusta Half Marathon and 10K: Sunday, Feb. 24:
Heart and Sole 5K, downtown Augusta, Saturday, March 2:
Strength for Sawyer 5K, Savannah Rapids, Saturday, March 9:
Loop the Lake 5K, Waynesboro, Ga., Saturday, March 9: www.active.com/running/waynesboro-ga/loop-the-lake-5k-2013