Medical advice from the Long Course Weekend Doctor!
1 Week to go…
By now the vast majority of your training should be done, so aim to reduce down and concentrate on increasing your carbohydrate intake.
Keep fluid ticking over with a steady drinking to correct dehydration of the week.
Try not to make too many changes in this week unless necessary, resist buying those new trainers, or recovery drink and stick to what you know and what works for you.
If a certain brand of gels or drinks are available during the race that you have not tried before, try these as soon as you can. Some gels can cause stomach cramps and on race day that is not what you want.
If you take any medication ensure you have enough supplies, particularly if you are traveling.
It is amazing how many people forget vital medication when travelling. Please make sure there is a record of anything that you take, preferably with both your registration and your race number or S.O.S bracelet ect.
Also record any allergies, and do not rely on someone who is riding/running with you to know what you take or what you are allergic to.
Lots of people take anti inflammatory information such as ibuprofen before racing, usually trying to avoid aches and pains after a race. There is very little reason to do this, and there is a risk that they can effect how your kidneys function. This can be a problem in hot weather, so my best advise would be not to take them. If you suffer from allergies be wary that anti-histamines can effect how you cool the body with exercise. So if you do need to take them, be careful to make sure that you keep cool with careful drinking.
If you have any concerns regarding medication, try to speak to your doctor preferably one with some training in sports medicine before you compete.
Many people suffer from colds and minor illnesses in the lead up to a big event. Most of these are not a problem, but there are risks.
A simple rule is that if symptoms are above the level of the neck then you may be fine, and if below then do not compete. However, if in doubt, then see your doctor prior to competing. There will always be another race on another day, and sometimes pushing too hard, despite the training you have put in will be a risk too far.
Everyone understands how frustrating it can be to get an injury late in your training, but it is a common time to have problem. Racing with an injury runs the risk of causing damage that may be difficult to cure. There will always be another day and it is better to miss one race and sort out an injury and maintain your fitness for the next race, than have a lengthy painful recovery from a more serious injury that could have been avoided.
Try to get some good advice from a physio, preferably with a sports qualification , or your doctor, again with some sports qualifications. As frustrating as this may be, listen to that advice – no one will stop you competing unless they feel there is a need!
Make sure you have any medication you need with you, such as inhalers. Use tape or Vaseline for areas at risk of chafing. Keep the fluid and food coming in before the race, but try not to ‘overload’ particularly if nerves tend to get the better of you.
You will be asked to get into the water prior to the swim. This is for a really good reason, as it helps to prevent a sudden change of body temperature when the race gets going. This change of temperature can be risky, so please make sure that you do get in the water with full immersion even if it takes a few minutes.
We will be at the start of the swim and see those who only go as far as their knees. Please don’t be the one needing our attention after the start! Depending on weather conditions people can get very cold during the swim, which can cause some confusion and disorientation. Please try and listen to the medical team if they advise you , they may have seen something you were aware of. if you do get any irritation to your eyes after the swim, do attend the medical tent for advice. Unfortunately there are Jellyfish in the water, if you do get stung please see the medical team ASAP.
Don’t forget sunscreen, sunburn will lose you fluid. Fill your water bottle prior to setting off and keep drinking over the course of the ride. Fill your bottles if they are empty and try to think ahead to the next water/feed station. People rarely over drink on the bike as a time trial type position is uncomfortable with a stomach full of fluid, but if you are slower or more upright try not to drink too much. Use a watch strap as a simple guide, if you see any swelling or it feels tight let the medical team know.
Sunscreen again! Drink comfortably before setting off and keep fluids coming gently. Particularly if you plan on competing the marathon in a time of 4 hours or more. Be careful not to drink because you feel that that is the right thing to do, you may be putting yourself at risk.
If you feel unwell let one of the medical team know, they are well supported and no-one wants to pull you out of the race unless there is a need.
If you feel your watch strap is tight let someone know. There will be an emergency race traveling the course. If you need to be picked up let a marshal know and they will get you sorted.
– Particularly for those doing all there disciplines it is vital to ‘refuel’ and hydrate after one event and before the other.
– Assuming you feel ok, start drinking fluids at the finish, and continue steadily until you can pass water again. If you don’t feel ok see the medical team ASAP.
– Try to get some food in in the first 20 minutes, recovery products or a milkshake is ideal. You then have two hours to try and re-place as many of those calories that you used, both of these meals should should be ideally about 70% carbohydrate and 20-30% protein.
– Much as it will be deserved, avoid drinking alcohol until you have started to pass water again. Be very careful if you are competing the following day, i would advise avoiding alcohol all together. If the weather is hot, take great care with water based rehydration prior to consuming alcohol.