Doc’s Talk 11-04-2012

Dr. Scaff talked about Tapering, pre-marathon events, and Turkey Trot music.

The Honolulu Marathon is only a month away and if you are doing 30-miles each week this is about the time to start considering cutting back.

Some people are still putting in more mileage rather than less.  Dr. Scaff was talking to some runners last week who do not show up to his weekly talks at the Marathon Clinic because they are out doing 22-mile runs.  That is sort of like running the marathon; after you finish the marathon you don’t feel like running 22 miles right away again.  It turns out that these people do not have time and are barely running 1 hour during the week.

Dr. Scaff cautions that marathon training just does not work that way.  Although the mileage comes out the same if you do 6 or 8 miles 2 times and then 22 miles in one run, you are better off running 10 or 12 miles 3 times each week because that is just the physiology of long-distance running.  Otherwise we would just do the 30 miles every Sunday and we would be ready.  When you have a lot of miles under your belt that may be ok.  Dr. Scaff knows an 80-year old man who runs a marathon every week, and that is because of all his training (he has done about 300 marathons), but he has gotten to a level of fitness where he can do it, most of us cannot. 

So Dr. Scaff would recommend that less is better than more.  If you are starting to have aches and pains or things are not quite going right, you really want to think about running less.  Dr. Scaff just does not think that any runs over 16 miles are going to do anybody any great benefit.  Think about it, you go out and you run 16 miles today, do you think running 19 miles (3 additional miles) is going to make any real difference (except maybe to slow you down)?  Not at all.  So listen to your body.  Be careful, do not get talked into doing more than you planned to do.

But if you do not take this advice and you get hurt or do not do as well as you thought you would in the marathon, every year at the Honolulu Marathon Clinic picnic the week after the race, we have a confessional booth where you can confess all your running sins and the Marathon Clinic will give you an act of contrition such as, “Buy a new pair of shoes and 3 pairs of socks and try to do better.”

The Marathon Preparations Talk
The Sunday before the Honolulu Marathon (12/02/2012) Dr. Scaff gives the final marathon preparations talk
.  It is about 20 minutes and you are welcome to bring any of your marathon running friends to listen.  He will tell you what to do from the time he finishes talking on Sunday until the time of the picnic the Sunday after:  What time to eat, what time to get up, what time to get to the race, what to do along the race course, etc.  Dr. Scaff has had some people tell him that he gave a little hint here and there and it just made all the difference in their marathon experience.  So even if the talk is a little bit long, and even if you have heard it before, it is probably worth listening to.

Carbo-Loading Party
The Friday before the Honolulu Marathon (12/07/2012), Dr. Scaff and his wife Donna host a carbo-loading party at their house.  You and your significant other are invited.  Please be sure to RSVP.  You are welcome to bring some pupus.  It is an adults-only function, unless you are with a kid who is running in the marathon, and then by definition that kid is an adult, even if they are only 7 years old; that is the way they make the rules at the Scaff house.  So you are welcome to attend.  Usually some of the out of state runners show up, Frank Shorter does when he is in town and he is very happy to pose for photographs. We do not know who else might be there but you are guaranteed to have a good time, …and in deference to certain people, including Jeff Beard, we are having the Beatles music again this year.

A Word of Advice
Dr. Scaff hopes at this point you know what you are going to wear on the day of the race and hopes it does not break down next week or the week after.  Everything should be in our final pre-launch mode.

Turkey Trot Music
As we head towards the Turkey Trot (Thursday, 11/22/12, let Dr. Scaff know what kind of bagpipe music you like.  His nephew has a whole repertoire including fast march, slow march, ruffles and flourishes, and more.
For more information on tapering, marathon preparations and other topics, read Your First Marathon – The Last Word In Long Distance Running, by Jack H. Scaff Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.M., available for purchase at the Honolulu Marathon Clinic on Sundays and online at:


For some good reading on nutrition, Dr. Scaff recommends everyone check out the daily postings on Dr. Alan Titchenal’s “Got Nutrients?” web site:

Here is a recent posting:

October 27, 2012
Evidence exists to support that low to moderation consumption of alcohol may confer some health benefits. However, it can be easy for some people to slide from moderate into excessive drinking habits which shifts the balance into an increased risk of various health problems.

Consumer Link
Moderate Drinking Decreases Number of New Brain Cells

Research Link
Neuroscience. 2012 Nov 8;224:202-9.