As the build-up to the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon hits fever pitch, with only 10 days to go to the epic event, Zimbabwe’s leading medical aid Maisha Health Fund is offering vital tips for participants to the marathon, set for Sunday July 3, 2022 in the iconic resort town.
As runners prime themselves for the 14th edition of what is now Africa’s number one marathon event, Maisha Health — a subsidiary of EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe Limited — says it is crucial for athletes to observe the following, to help them “stay in the race” and recover well after they cross the finishing line:
Hydration should not begin the morning of the race. Instead, you should make a conscious effort to stay well hydrated at least 48 hours before the start of your marathon.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking five to 12 ounces (approximately 230 millilitres) of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes during a marathon.
This is often difficult to do and can result in over hydration if your sweat loss is low.
Therefore, it is recommended that you learn how much your body needs to consume to stay well hydrated during your training period, especially on the long runs.
To hydrate before a marathon, try drinking two 230ml glasses of water or sports drink exactly two hours before the run starts so that by the time the race begins, the fluids have been absorbed into your system.
If you think you may take longer than five hours to run the marathon, keep in mind that your sweat losses will be less, and so you will not have to drink as much fluid before the race.
Eat at least 300 calories an hour before the race starts.
Test out your food choices during your training so that you know which foods help fuel your body for a long run.
And if you feel your body needs more food, eat your final snack no more than 30 minutes before the start of the race.
Wear the proper gear
Be sure to check the weather forecast and dress appropriately.
However, it is important that you do not overdress, which can increase your risk for dehydration.
Also, don’t wear new shoes, socks, clothing or accessories for the race.
Everything you wear should have gone through a test run, or at least been worn in your training races before the marathon.
Check the course
It is highly recommended that you review the marathon course before race day.
If you live close to where the marathon will take place or have time when you arrive in town, it is helpful to drive the entire course, noting any landmarks or difficult patches.
If you are not able to review the course yourself, see if you can order a video of the course or talk to people who have completed the marathon in the past.
Before the marathon, make sure to go through a thorough warm-up that can include about 15 minutes of light jogging, followed by another 15 minutes of stretching.
Some people like to incorporate a few strides at race pace to prepare their body for the race.
It is important to follow the strides with constant, light movement, such as easy jogging, until the race begins — even if you are in a crowded start line — so that your muscles stay loose and do not tighten.
At the same time, it is essential that you do not overexert yourself during your warm-up.
Give yourself plenty of time
You are likely to feel a bit nervous and anxious before the race, and the last thing you want is to be rushed.
Wake up early enough to give yourself ample time to take care of everything you must do — dress, eat, shower, use the restroom, drink.
And, if you haven’t already done so, coordinate a time and place to meet after the race with your family and friends.
Also, depart for the marathon with enough time to be able to check your bag and warm up before the race begins.
Most people experience an adrenaline rush while waiting for the race to begin, which may cause you to run out of the start line at an accelerated pace without even noticing it.
It is important to pace yourself and pull back until you hit the half mark.
You don’t want to wear yourself out early on in the race.
After you have crossed the finishing line, keep walking for at least 10 minutes to fend off stiffness and gradually bring your heart rate back to its resting state.
Be sure to do some post-race recovery stretches to stretch out your legs, back, and hips.
The Econet Vic Falls Marathon has a race for everyone.
Register for the race you want to participate in: the 7,5km fun-run, the 21,1km half-marathon and the 42,2km full marathon. It also offers 10,5km half marathon relay.
To register, visit: www.vicfallsmarathon.com and pay using EcoCash, MasterCard or Visa Card.