Doc’s Talk 12-04-2011

This marks the beginning of Marathon Week – A week long celebration and you are a part of that celebration!  Today Dr. Scaff gave his The Week Before the Marathon talk.  Here is everything you need to do before, during, and after the Honolulu Marathon:

This is the third and final week of tapering.  Do not over do it, especially at this point.  If your regular training runs were 40 miles per week, this week you drop to 12 miles.  If you were doing less than 40 miles, drop to 8 – 10 miles this week.  Tuesday and Thursday run for about an hour and go slow!  The purpose of running this week is just to maintain fitness and flexibility and avoid injury.  Any additional running at this point is NOT going to make you go one second faster or go one mile further, Dr. Scaff guarantees that.

Carbo-Loading Party
This Friday, December 09, 2011, is the 39th Carbo-Loading Party at Jack and Donna Scaff’s house.  Members of the Honolulu Marathon Clinic are invited and may bring a significant other, a child that is entered in the Marathon, or friends who are also entered in the Marathon.  This is an adults-only event.

The invitations that were handed out contain information about the party:

  • No parking near the Scaff’s home; shuttle service is provided so please park near the Makiki Pumping Station
  • Please kindly RSVP so they can get a head-count of attendees
  • Though it is not required, if you decide you want to bring any food items to the party, let them know what you are bringing.
  • To RSVP or to ask questions call:  955-4134

Carbo-loading used to be de rigueur.  You would eat nothing but protein and fat starting today until Wednesday to deplete your carbohydrates.  Then on Thursday you’d load up on carbos and trick your muscles into taking up 20% more carbohydrates than if you didn’t do this.  But the latest data shows that we’re carbo-depleting all the time, so you don’t have to go through the miserable protein-fat phaseEat a regular diet until Thursday, then on Thursday switch over to a higher carbohydrate dietWhat is a carbohydrate?  A potato, rice, starch, pasta, …not a steak.  Starting Friday or Saturday avoid all roughage and gas-producing foods, because there’s no such thing as constipation in a marathon.

Sleep goes in a 48-hour cycle.  The studies done on the East Germans during the Olympics and everywhere else found out that the performance of people who did not sleep the night before an athletic event was not affected by that one night of missed sleep.  So Friday night is the important night to get a good night sleep.  If you are at the Carbo-Loading party, sleep in the next day.  If you can’t sleep the night before the Marathon, stay up, do something else, enjoy, …you’ll get a good night sleep the following night.

Something that was also studied in the days before birth control pills was menstruation.  Looking at the Olympic performances, most women athletes were under 30 years old, so about 1 out of 4 were expected to be in that part of her cycle, but you couldn’t tell based on performance.

Marathon Day
Get up at 2 a.m., maybe 1 a.m.

If you have to eat, this is the time to eat, because when you start running your stomach no longer absorbs food.  This is why people puke when they cross the finish line because they cannot empty their stomach.

If you don’t eat anything, that’s ok too.  Most long-distance runners don’t eat before the Honolulu Marathon, but if you have to eat, keep it simple, keep it small.

Black coffee is good in small amounts.  It helps your body switch from carbohydrate to fat metabolism faster.

Be careful about drinking caffeinated drinks, especially drinks like Red Bull.  There have been about 6 deaths in marathons across the country and virtually every one of them has occurred in people taking too much caffeine.  Dr. Scaff is not saying Red Bull causes these problems, but the extra caffeine is not going to help you and he sees no reason to use such drinks at all.

The Well-Dressed Runner

  • No new clothing on the day of the race.
  • Shoes that have at least 200 miles on them.
  • A shirt that says something.  It can get you noticed.

Your running number goes on your chest.  It does not cause heat stroke.  It is used for photographic purposes so people can tell who you are along the course and makes identification easier if they need to know little bit more about you.

Dr. Scaff has had many people tell him they should have listened to him about this.

  • Two ounces of Vaseline per foot, so much that you have to wash your shoes after the race.
  • Put Vaseline between your toes, on top of the feetunder the feet, all the wayup your ankles to half an inch above your sock.
  • You’ll be surprised where you can get blisters.  They’ll show up where you never had blisters before: under the arm, under the bra line.
  • Men should consider putting Vaseline on their nipples or wear pastiesbecause men finish the race with bloody nipples.
  • You have to think about all the areas that might chafe.

No liquids after 4 a.m.
After about 20 minutes of running you stop producing urine (if you’re a 4-hour marathoner).  If you have to stop to urinate in the first 2 or 3 miles that is just bladder sweat that collected before you started the race. So you want to show up to the race with an empty bladder.  That is why we tell you to take the soda with you to drink about 10 minutes before the start of the race because it will help your body switch into fat metabolism.

On Marathon Day there are never enough restrooms for everybody (…but there are lots of trees and grass).

There will be no parking anywhere near Kapiolani Park, so don’t even think about it.  Have somebody drop you off where you can catch the bus or have someone take you to the start.

How to Start
Your training is done.  Ninety percent of the race is psychology.  The marathon is in your body and wants to get out, but you’ve got to keep it in there.

The marathon is not like football.  You are running against yourself, no one tackles you or pushes you aside.  It is not teamwork.

Being up front at the start doesn’t help because the race does not start for you until the chip on your shoe crosses the starting mat.  So line up sensibly.

About 10 minutes before the race, pop open the caffeinated diet cola and let if de-fizzA minute or two before the starting gun, drink 3 to 6 ounces and discard the rest.  The diet cola, because of the caffeine without the sugar, aids your body in converting from carbohydrate to fat metabolism – but this is only for the start – you will need carbohydrates all along the way so hit all the aid stations.  There will be diluted drinks being served along the race route.  It’s important to drink these as well as water.

Your Race Day Script
Before even getting to the marathon, think about how you are going to run that day.  When the gun goes off you are going to see a lot of people who throw the script away and take off like a bat out of Hades, …and they are wrong from step 1.

Part of the script is a game plan.  You can sort of dump the game plan after 15 miles, but don’t try this early.  For the first 15 miles, if you predicted a 9-minute pace, when you get to the mile mark it should say 9 minutes, …and when you get to the 2-mile mark it should say 18.  If it doesn’t be prepared to walk if you’ve gotten ahead of your schedule.

We know the people who perform the best run the second half of the race faster than the first half (negative splits).

If you are with a friend, they wrote their own script, so if they take off just say, “See you later.”  Dr. Scaff promises 90 percent of you will see them waiting for you at the 18-mile mark, …they’ll be walking because they went too fast in the first half of the race.

Negative Splits
Run the first half of the race slower than the second half.  People who run this way tend to finish 4 percent faster than people who ran at the same pace all the way through.  It does work.  It is hard to learn how to run the second half faster, but that comes with experience.  The mistakes you make in the first 10 miles will haunt you in the last 6.  This is why you want to stick with your game plan.

If you are out on the course more than 4 hours 100 percent of you will have hyponatremia (low sodium).  They say it causes people to die; it has.  Dr. Scaff did a study on 4,000 runners in Honolulu, all were hyponatremic, no one died from hyponatremia.  People die of over-hydration or under-hydration.  Some books say you shouldn’t drink until you’re thirsty.  Dr. Scaff disagrees.  You begin drinking from the beginning with the few ounces of caffeinated diet soda at the starting line.  If you’ve lost more than 5 – 6 percent of your weight then you are at risk for heat stroke and you have to address that.

Water you ingest is better by a factor of about 4 than water poured on the body.  Pour water over your head, but not at the expense of what you are drinking. If you want to pour water over your head, bend over so the water does not run down your body and wash off your Vaseline or make your shoes wet (you will get blisters).

Do not drink water out of the sponge.

Energy Replacements
Power Gels are just expensive sugar.  You don’t need them.  You can if you want, but since they are hypertonic, fluid has to come out of your blood stream to dilute it to be absorbed.

Dr. Scaff recommends pretzels, about 2 or 3 every mile.  They have salt, carbohydrates, starch.

Race Course Etiquette
Keep to the right on the way out.  If you are walking, stay away from the center of the line.

How to Finish
At mile 15 if you are feeling pretty good, do a body check using the red-amber-green light analogy.  Check you head:  Are you thinking clearly?  If so, that’s green.  Are your joints feeling good?  If so, that’s green.  If there are any body parts that are hurting, that’s an amber.

If everything is green you can start contemplating your sprint at about 18 miles.

If anything is amber, do another body check at 18 miles.

If at 18 miles everything is good, try to pick up your pace just a little.  Try for a mile.  If it works and everything feels good, keep it up, if not, go back to your game plan.

Some people get to mile 18 and feel so bad they start wondering if they can finish.  Don’t think about finishing, think about the next aid station, it’s less than 2 miles away.  Keep this up and before you know it you are at the 23-mile mark and know you can finish.

What you will notice at the 18-mile mark is that you’ll start seeing walkers, people who were running ahead of you.  They had a terrible game plan.  How many people will you pass?  The median time in the Honolulu Marathon is 4 hours and 45 minutes.  This means if you are doing sub-five hours you’re going to pass 7,500 people.  This is an incentive to stick to your plan.

At the 20 or 22-mile mark, Dr. Scaff skips the aid stations unless he’s really thirsty or is out there a long time.  If you see someone puking it’s because they took their fluids too late.  At this point you can cut back in the fluids and just take water, which would be the most easy for your body to assimilate.

At the 22-Mile Mark
At this point, if everything feels good, you can begin your sprint (defined as increasing your pace by 3 to 5 seconds per mile), whatever that pace is for you.  If you go too fast in the first 18-miles, you lose your ability to do this.

Slow down, enjoy crossing the finish line in style.  Look good for the photographs.

As soon as you cross the finish line you have to start hydrating.   Your body has been pouring fluids out of your muscles to maintain blood volume.  As soon as you stop if you don’t give your body some fluids you risk post-race collapse where a runner crosses the finish line feeling good and 10 minutes later they are in the first aid tent with an I.V.

Drink a cola-like beverage with sugar.  The race staff will have some there, they know it’s good.  The caffeine is a mild vasoconstrictive and will get you out of fat metabolism.  Get two cups and start sipping slowly before you’ve gone 100 feet.

If you feel bad don’t be afraid to lie down or ask for help.

Post-Marathon Tent
The Honolulu Marathon Clinic paid to be part of a tent with the Mid-Pacific Roadrunners this year.  It is located between the tennis courts and the bandstand on the ocean-side of Kapiolani Park near the sidewalk.  This is a good reunion area and there will be sodas and food.  If you need a massage it is $15, everything else will be taken care of.

Next Year
The Honolulu Marathon Clinic needs volunteers to serve as Honolulu Marathon Clinic staff.  Once you’ve competed a marathon you are eligible to become a volunteer staff member.  An eligible volunteer is an expert who has completed a marathon at any speed, because we need people to train beginners.

Wishing you a great time and a great Honolulu Marathon Experience!  ALOHA!!!