AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thousands of athletes will be running across the Texas capital city this weekend for the 2023 Austin Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K races. Dr. Scott Smith, an orthopedic surgeon with Texas Orthopedics, spoke with KXAN about how runners can ensure they stay healthy ahead of the race. 

What to do in the days before the race

“Hopefully, you have been training for months,” Smith said. “No one is ready in a day.” 

By this point, those training for the Austin Marathon should have already completed their long runs and shouldn’t be running much more in the week preceding the marathon.

“It’s Tuesday, maybe a mid-distance one, but probably [with only] four to five days to go, I wouldn’t run anymore,” he said.

Instead, for the next few days, Smith advised to load up on complex carbohydrates, hydrate as much as possible and start thinking about an outfit.

Check the forecast

While those post-race pictures are undoubtedly a valid reason to pick out your outfit ahead of the day, Smith said it’s important to check the forecast and dress accordingly. 

KXAN meteorologists are predicting a high of 58 and a low of 44 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of the race. Smith said that running in the 40s may be slightly cool, so it will be worthwhile to wear an extra layer for the beginning of your run. 

“The problem, if it’s really cold, you’re gonna start out wearing some sort of windbreaker jacket, warm-ups or sweats, and relatively quickly, you are going to be overdressed,” he said. “Be prepared to lose them because that is what it takes.” 

“You cannot wear them the whole race because you’ll be markedly dehydrated if you do.”

Smith also recommended ensuring your shoes fit properly before the race, as well as to study the course to know when to stop for water and rest. 

Monitoring your body

“No one finishes a marathon and says they feel great,” Smith said. “Everybody has their own threshold, and, hopefully, you’ve been training enough to know what you feel like at 20 miles.” 

But if you start feeling dizzy, experiencing chest pain or not thinking clearly, Smith said those are signs that you should seek assistance. 

The severity of the injury you acquire while running will determine whether you should stop or not. Running on a blister will not kill you, but will likely make your foot sore for a week or two after the race. If you pull a muscle, however, it may be in your best interest to stop running.

“Instead of a week or two recovery, you can make it a three month [one] if you run through that. So that’s kind of the take-home message: you just got to be intelligent.”

“There are other marathons. There are other races you can run,” Smith added. 

Further, athletes running 30 to 40 miles a week should be wary of stress fractures. Smith said any pain that doesn’t go away within a week should probably be x-rayed. 

Post run 

While wanting to languish on a bed or couch after the race may be tempting, Smith said absolute rest following a 26-mile run is not the right choice. Some light rest following your effort is acceptable, but Smith advised you to continue moving. 

Smith said yoga, pilates or massages would all be worthwhile the day following the marathon to clear the lactic acid you accumulated. Also, ensure that you eat enough protein to rebuild the muscle torn down and continue to hydrate to replenish nourishments and keep your kidney functioning. 

“If you don’t make yourself pee a few times, you’re not going to get rid of all those metabolites that you got to get rid of,” Smith said.