Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Last Week Before Your Marathon

Chill out as much as possible in the last few days before your big race. Yes, you've done all the hard training earlier and it's now down to the last week. So don't be afraid to rest more now.

Reduce the outside stresses in your life especially from work. Try to have all your work projects under control.

Decline politely all invitations to any late nights out and so on. Try to stay off your feet as much as possible in the last few days.

For those of you collecting your number tags, fon't spend too much time at the expo after collecting your race entry pack. Now is not the time to check out the latest running shoes or energy gel flavor.

You can carbo-load but don't fat load, especially in the last 3 days leading up to the race. And remember this, since you have already been tapering and thus expending less calories you don't really have to eat more than usual.

Stay tuned for one more post just before race day.

*Picture from Flickr

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2 More Weeks

You're down to the last 2 weeks before your marathon. Go with what you know. Meaning even if your best buddy or a well meaning colleague shows up dispensing advice, don't try aything radical. Especially in the last week leading up to your goal race. Stick to your own training plans and what you've been practicing.

Be at ease doing what you've been used to rather than trying something new and then worrying how it will affect you.

If possible, run at the same time as the start of your marathon. Yes, that's a real early start for most of you. Well, the good thing is your body's rhythm-including your all important bathroom routine will be in sync once race day arrives.

The more times you can do this the better, try at least the last 3 days before your race. Back when I was still racing, my swim training starts at 5.30am. In order to be early, I had to get up at 4.30am, leave my place by 4.50am and ride my bike there. The good thing is that none of the early starts at most races fazes me since I was already up even earlier than most races. You can do it! You just need some practice.

Remember to start tapering. You can tone down to 70% of what you've been doing this week and probably 40-50% of your regular mileage in the last week leading up to your race. Run a dress rehearsal of not more than 12km in your race outfit and shoes at your race pace. Do a similar run in the last week but only up to 5 km. Picture yourself out on the course (if you can't get on the course) running strong and relaxed. This run will help you lock in your race pace and let you get some decent effort in.

Before you go to bed each night, visualize yourself running smooth and strong and crossing the finishing line showing a new personal best time.

Til my next post, take care and rest well.

*Picture from Flickr by Brian Gudas Photography

Sunday, November 15, 2009

3 Weeks To Go

Yes, for those of you running in the Standard Chartered Singapore marathon on 6/12/09. This is probably the most critical phase of your training. Most of you would have done your last long run 3 or 4 weeks out, so if you haven't don't try to cram it in. Doing more than you are used to will hurt rather than help your race (especially so if you are attempting the full 42km).

Select the shoes, socks and race clothes that you'll wear for your race. Try them out a few times before the race to ensure that you do not get any chafing or blisters.

Even if you are feeling great, resist the urge to increase your training. Draw strength from the hard work you have put in and have confidence in what you have been doing.

If possible, start doing some of your runs on the race route. Get used to the pancake flatness (well most of it anyway). The lack of variation in a flat course means you will be using the same old muscles the whole race and you need to get ready for this.

Practice drinking with the sports drinks and energy gels you intend to refuel with during your race. For those with finicky tummys, you should be using the same sports drink that will be available on the race course.

Stay tuned as we share more tips for running your best marathon in our next post.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM

I've had many of my patients ask me if they need to be taking any supplements. Some even tell me they swear by their daily glucosamine and chondroitin pills -the 2 supplements favored by most runners. My patients were all really convinced the supplements worked until I tell them the published evidence.

In some earlier studies, there seemed to be some evidence supporting the use of glucosamine (but not chondroitin, or MSM etc). Yes, that means you do not need anything else in your tablet or pill except glucosamine. But most if not all of those studies were sponsored by the companies who made the tablets.

Based on recent studies however, researchers looked the effects of glucosamine and/ or chondroitin on joint spaces in the knees of 572 subjects with known (x-ray evidence) osteoarthritis in their knees. At the end of the 2 year follow up, there were essentially no differences between the subjects who received a placebo (or dummy) tablet and those who received glucosamine and/ or chondroitin. It was a double blinded study, meaning both researchers and subjects didn't know who were getting the dummy tablets and who were getting the real deal.

So what's my take on this. For all those who are currently taking them and feel that they work, please carry on. If not you may feel uneasy stopping anyway. For those who are thinking of starting, well, you have the evidence before you.

Have a look at much stronger evidence not to take glucosamine here.


Sawitzke AD, Shi H, Finco MF et al (2009). The Effect of Glocosamine and/ or Chondroitin Sulphate on the Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis. International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Do More Bicyclists Lead To More Injuries?

Not necessarily so, if research from a well-established body is true. Bicycle-riding patterns in the United States and Europe were studied and what was found was when the number of cyclists on the road increases, the likelihood of accidents declines. This surprising result is known among its researchers as the “safety in numbers” effect, and has been repeatedly documented. (This is true. When I ride in a huge group on Saturdays, we do get more respect from drivers.)

This particular post's topic was what the New York Times discussed just a few days ago on 291009.

Why is this so, you may wonder? How can more cyclists mean fewer road accidents? The author of a Californian study thinks that adaptation in motorist behavior seems to be the reason rather than people cycling obeying traffic laws. In other words, when more cyclists ride on the roads, car drivers become used to them and respond appropriately.

There is a catch of course, In the early stages of increasing bike ridership, more accidents may occur, since drivers will not yet be used to the influx of bicycles (and many of the cyclists will not be used to cycling in heavy traffic).

Well this is what I've noticed here in Singapore. While I do not have hard facts to back me me up, a personal observation of mine is that in the last few years, there seems to be an increasing number of cyclists on our roads. I'm not sure about the rate of accidents but if it's true than of course less injuries from accidents are great, but I do see more cyclists getting sports injuries..... that will probably be another post.

Like many other increasing number of cyclists here in Singapore, I too ride to work at Sports Solutions daily, both for health reasons and also to do my part to go green. (Actually, it is also because I get really impatient waiting for the bus). So all you drivers out there, do look out for us cyclists on the roads.

Here's the link to the New York Times article.

*Picture by Getty Images