Message from the Medical Director at Rockdoc
Important pre-run and race day tips!
RockDoc is the official on-course medical provider for the 2016 BMO Vancouver Marathon. Medical Director, Dr. Gutman of Rockdoc shares important tips on health and safety leading up to, and on the big day.
The week prior: Fluids
For some time, it was advised that runners should try to stay ahead of their thirst and drink as much fluid as possible to prevent dehydration –this is not accurate! While dehydration is possible, especially in hot and humid conditions, there is also a significant risk of drinking too much fluid. Over hydration can cause hyponatremia or low serum sodium, which can lead to serious and dangerous complications. It is now recommended for athletes in general, and especially for those completing a marathon in four hours or more, to aim to replace 100% of fluids lost due to sweat while running and not more. Runners should be guided by their thirst as the signal to drink, thus preventing dehydration while also lowering the risks associated with over hydration. Runners should begin their races well hydrated – indicated by clear, nearly colorless urine – and then drink a sports drink with sodium and other >electrolytes when thirsty, but not more than 400 – 800 ml per hour. Recently marathon medical experts have recommended avoiding excessive caffeine intake and anti inflammatory medications prior to, and during marathons to reduce potential health risks. It is also important that athletes adjust their pace to race conditions, slowing as heat and humidity rise.
Race Day: The Finish Line
Keep walking through the chutes after the Finish Line!
The most common cause of collapse after a long race is due to blood pooling in the legs, resulting from suddenly stopping contraction of the leg muscles. Some runner find that raising their arms above their heads and clasping their fingers, at the finish for several minutes in an effort to redistribute blood back to the core is helpful. Blankets will be available if needed, to keep you warm. Drink fluids slowly and restore your blood sugar with a snack after the race. If you feel unwell or have ANY medical concerns,ask a volunteer to direct and accompany you to one of the medical facilities. Once back home or at your hotel if you feel unwell, you should seek medical advice from your own doctor, the hotel doctor on call or a clinic or hospital. If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, severe weakness or any other concerning symptoms, consider calling 911.
Samuel J. Gutman, MD CCFP(EM)
Rockdoc Consulting Inc.