SportsLab's Questions and Answers Evening
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SportsLab's Questions and Answers Evening

SportsLab hosted a Q&A at their lab in Grafton, Auckland on 10 October 2019 to cover questions relating to running, specifically referencing the upcoming Auckland Marathon.

Their expert panel consisted of physiotherapist and coach Vaughan Craddock, exercise physiologist Dr Claire Badenhorst, massage therapist Luke McCallum, and sports podiatrist Hannah Cerecke. Jason Herriman (well known as the finish line voice at Running Events, TotalSport and Run Auckland events, including others) was the host, asking the questions people had submitted at the start of the evening.

There were some great questions and a lot of great information came out of the evening. I know they videoed it and may release it at some stage, but for now here’s some of the questions and answers I can remember from the evening, along with other pointers given from the experts.

How do I avoid hitting the wall when running a marathon?

Avoiding hitting the wall in a marathon comes down to having a nutrition plan for your race. Not only should you have a plan, but you also need to have practiced the plan in training during your long runs. Gels are often used (see the next point below) and Coke is usually available at most marathons in the second half of the race.

Taking gels during a race

Claire pointed out that there’s no point taking gels for the first time on race day, because your gut simply won’t know what to do with it. Train your gut by taking gels during your training, for at least 4 weeks before the event. And don’t forget to drink water with your gel otherwise you may struggle with gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Drink water, not a carb-based drink, with your gels for the same reason.

What do I do if I hit the wall when running marathon?

Drink Coke if it’s available. It’s one of the best forms of glucose because it’s easily absorbed into your body to get you going again. Any simple glucose sweets are good too, but it was noted that gels will take time to have an effect because of their complexity.

How do I avoid getting cramp?

The panel agreed that no one really knows how we get cramp and it’s therefore difficult to work out how to get rid of it. One of the panel even noted that they have tried to make people get cramp in laboratory experiments but can’t, making it difficult to diagnose and find a solution. I think massaging/stretching the cramped area was suggested.

How do I avoid getting the stitch?

This one was really interesting, with Hannah pointing out that simply holding something in your hand(s) can help avoid the stich in the first place, because it relaxes the diaphragm. I think someone else also mentioned taking deep breaths helps (which I’ve always found helps a little myself, along with giving the stich area a good rub with my thumb!).

Is it OK to walk during a marathon?

All agreed that it’s absolutely OK to walk, and Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk method was mentioned, along with someone run/walking a 2:30 marathon. The general consensus was that it’s good to walk if you need to and don’t worry about what other people think. Vaughan pointed out that walking every so often helps to alleviate tiredness towards the end of a marathon which will often make your marathon performance overall faster than if you’d just run all the way. It was also suggested to plan to always walk the aid stations so you get a chance to take in the nutrition without spilling it all over your face, and ruining the finish line photos with a dirty Coke splattered face!

When’s it important to get a good night’s sleep before the big day?

Does anything sleep well the night before a big race? Especially something like the Auckland Marathon where you’ll be getting up around 3am? The night before the night before was deemed much more important to get a good night’s sleep, but also to make sure you’re getting good sleep in the couple of weeks before the big day. Some good tips for getting to sleep included switching off technology for half an hour before bed, and that being cooler helps you get to sleep, so having a drink of cold water or a hot shower before going to bed can help you get to sleep faster.

When is too late for your last long run?

Vaughan pointed out that when you should do your last run depends on your experience. If you’re new to running and/or the distance, you should follow the training plans and the last long run should be three to four weeks out to give your body enough time to recover. If you’re more experienced, then it could be two weeks.

When can I run a marathon again?

Again, a lot of this comes down to experience. Vaughan suggested 1 day per mile run for the less experienced, but at least a week for the more experienced.

When should I replace shoes?

Hannah talked about how shoes should normally last 800 to 1000km but so much of it depends on how you run in your shoes and wear them / wear them out. As well as logging distance (Strava is excellent for this) keep an eye on wear and tear and note any niggles you might feel when you run in them. She also noted that rotating between two pairs of shoes helps both to last a lot longer, as the internal parts of the shoe that is compressed while running gets a chance to expand again with two to three days off.

Other advice

Have a Plan B. Have a plan C. Heck, have a Plan D! The panel agreed that the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. Why else are you doing this?