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Dr K - Race Day Medical Information

Race Day Medical Information
Ed Kornoelje DO, Metro Health Sports Medicine

You are almost there!  Race day will be here soon and all of your hard work will pay off.  Here are a few last minute UPDATED medical tips—read a few times!

When you run you sweat.  I know, I know—pretty obvious.  We all sweat differently, however, and things like fitness, weather conditions and pace affect sweating as well.  It is normal to lose weight over the course of a race (often 2-4% of starting weight).  Weight gain (or minimal weight loss) raises the risk of hyponatremia—too much drinking of water causing sodium (salt) levels in blood to go down resulting in swelling of the brain.  This is rare and preventable.  How do you find the right hydration balance:

DON’T OVER-DRINK!  Drink when thirsty.  In longer walks/runs, a lot of sweat is lost.  Sweat contains both water and electrolytes.  Both need to be replaced to avoid medical complications.  If this is done solely with water, an imbalance may occur—too much water, not enough sodium.  To avoid this problem, we suggest the following:

·       Drink 12-16 ounces of fluid 1-2 hours prior to starting the race.
·       Drink another 6-8 ounces 1/2 hour prior to the race.
·       During the race, drink no more than 2-4 oz per mile (2 oz if you weigh about 100 pounds and 4 oz if you weigh about 200 pounds).
·       Adjust the rate of fluid intake to race pace: slower race pace = slower drinking rate (8 min pace—6-8 oz / 20 min, 9-10 min pace—4 oz /20 min, over 10 min/mile—3-4           oz / 20 min). Aid stations may be closer together than this—you do not have to drink at each one.
·       Consider using a sports drink (such as Gatorade/PowerAde) to replenish fluid—it has the electrolytes already mixed in.

 BE CAUTIOUS about taking anti-inflammatories/NSAIDS (like Motrin, Advil, ibuprofen, Aleve) 24 hours prior to a race. During exercise, the kidneys play a key role in regulating electrolytes to prevent dehydration. NSAIDS affect the kidneys ability to regulate these electrolytes & can cause other medical problems. Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) is OK.  Avoid anti-diarrheal and cold medicines as well, as they can have a dehydrating effect.

 Listen to your body.  If you don’t feel right, your body may be trying to tell you that it’s time to stop and get checked out.  There is a medical team at each aid station (look for the orange flag) whose goal is to help you finish the race safely.  Most runners who spend time at a medical aid station finish the race—don’t be afraid to stop.  We all want you to run again in the future!

Speaking of the future, what is the best way to recover in anticipation of training again?  Some rest from heavy training is needed after any race—the longer the race the longer the rest.  While there are no specific guidelines that have been scientifically verified, some suggest one day of “rest” for each mile run—15 days if you run the 25K.  I believe that a reasonable approach is 3-5 days of complete rest, followed by 20-30 minutes of light cardio work (running, cycling or swimming) 2-3 times during the first week of recovery.  This is called active rest.  Push-ups, sit-ups, and light weight training are OK too.  Rolling and massage therapy are also good ideas.  More on this in the next newsletter—stay tuned!

 There are many places to find us if needed.  We have locations with sports med doctors all over town—check us out at for more information.  We are also seeing patients at the Metro Health Sports Medicine Center inside the Spartan Stores YMCA at the Metro Health Village.  Call 252-7778 for more information or to schedule an appointment.  And don’t forget about Injury Wise at Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids every Wednesday night from 6-8 PM.  These are brief one on one sessions open to active individuals of all ages and sports.  Contact Gazelle for more information.  

 Be active!

Fifth Third River Bank Run

PO Box 2194
Grand Rapids, MI  49501-2194
616.771.1590   |