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How to Stay Healthy This Marathon Season

As the weather warms, marathoners and bikeathoners across New York prepare for their next challenge. New York hosts hundreds of marathons and bikeathons per year, with many occurring in the Spring and Summer seasons. Notably, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum 5K Run/Walk occurred on April 23, and attracted thousands to run or walk from Pier 26 (Tribeca) through Battery Park City, with views of One World Trade Center. Bike4Chai (run through Chai Lifeline) will take place this summer, August 16-17, and has raised over $900,000 to date. With thousands of runners and bikers per event, it is vital that marathoners stay healthy during their rigorous workouts.

Dr. Asher Goldstein of Genesis Pain Centers offers four key pieces of advice for healthy marathon running or biking. Dr. Goldstein recently relaunched Genesis Pain Centers’ name and website to promote pain relief treatments across the tristate area. He offers the following advice for avoiding pain and discomfort while running a marathon: First, performers must stay hydrated. It is important to start drinking the right amount of water at least two days before the marathon. During the race lots of fluid is lost; therefore, Dr. Goldstein stresses the importance of drinking lots of water. It is also a good idea to drink sports drinks and water instead of water alone so as to avoid over-diluting your body’s natural sodium levels. Exactly how much water to drink depends on various factors, including body weight, gender, climate and sweat rate. It is also important not to overhydrate, which can be avoided by drinking only when you are thirsty.

Second, people running and biking for extended distances should maintain the proper diet to do so, by stocking up on carbs (carbo-loading.) All runners fear “hitting the wall,” which occurs when glycogen levels become low during a high-intensity activity. Hitting the wall can be avoided by carbo-loading before and during your run. Foods that are high in carbohydrate include pasta, potatoes and select fruit and vegetables. These foods should be introduced to your diet at least a few weeks before the marathon. A good diet is also important after the run. Specifically, you should eat foods that are high in protein to help you rebuild muscle. Protein-rich foods include milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs.

Additionally, marathoners should wear the right shoes. Good running shoes should be padded, lightweight, supportive and account for your foot’s pronation, or arch. When selecting marathon shoes, you should account for how fast you want to run, how much you weigh, how wide your foot is, what type of shoes you’ve practiced in and what the weather will be like on race day.

Lastly, be sure to stretch before the race. It is a good idea is to wake up two and a half hours before the race to give your body time to raise its core temperature and wake up. Upon waking, you should slow-jog to get your blood flowing without exhausting yourself. You should also do lunges, as this stretch is a good way to stretch your hip and leg muscles. After months of practicing, stretching before the race is the best way for your efforts to pay off.

Marathons and bikeathons are a great way to motivate yourself to stay fit and healthy, as long as you follow these tips while performing. This marathon season, go the distance to take care of yourself while going the distance.

By Dr. Asher Goldstein

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