Go! St. Louis Half Marathon
By Andrew Reheisse, Klean Team USA Ambassador – Sponsored Athlete
The Go! St. Louis Half Marathon was originally on my race schedule but as we all know, plans can and do change. Along with being a runner, aspiring triathlete and a father of 2, I am also a full-time student. Through my education and endurance training, I have been fortunate to develop relationships which have allowed me the opportunity to complete my residency in an endurance specific sport medicine office. Daily, we see runners, cyclist and triathletes alike, all with the goal of competing at the highest level of their capabilities.
While I would have surely been able to complete the half-marathon and possibly compete against my current best times, the opportunity to serve on the medical staff as well as help head up a post-race recovery area open to all athletes seemed to be the best choice at this time in my education and training. On a day that saw over 11,000 runners and beautiful weather, teamwork and organization positioned us to best handle all challenges thrown our way because as we know, perfect conditions do not equate to complication free racing.
While this year had far fewer cases of dehydration, fatigue and over-training injuries; a brutal winter with too much snow and ice for even the best outdoor, harsh weather enthusiasts provided us with many under-training injuries. I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the common issues we saw through the day and how newbie and experienced runner alike can help each other, the medical team, race organizers and volunteers pull off a smooth, successful race.
Run the race you trained for. Most of the country experienced a harsher than normal winter leaving minimal time to get in the training one needs to successfully run a goal half or full marathon. In the weeks prior to the race, we encounter runner after runner stressing their concern for their base mileage and if they were going to be able to complete their designated race. With some encouragement, we assured them they could complete the race but may not be able to compete at the level they had intended when they signed up for the race. Most of the injuries we saw came from this area, those who just did not train enough but tried to race at their goal pace causing them to bonk midway through the race. Most were able to push through with struggling efforts while others had to drop out of the race to avoid injury. Simply put, if you signed up for a full marathon and only put in the training for a half marathon, step down, slow down or plan to visit the medical tent post-race or your sport physician in the near future.
Understand the importance of hydration, even on cooler days. While we saw a race start in the mid 40’s and most finishers coming through before we past 55 degrees, we still experienced a few cases of dehydration. This was experienced more with the full marathon runners and though we all know to hydrate, it pays to be reminded of its importance. Hydration is more than just drinking some water here and there; it should be part of your training and should incorporate more than just water.
“Electrolytes are key and should be consumed before, during and after a race. Klean Electrolytes have become my new go-to now that the weather is warming up but ‘ade’ drinks can also keep you balanced and properly hydrated.”
Most races provide both water and ‘ade’ drinks at the hydration stations throughout the course. Grab one as often as you can, train with hydration to know your comfort zone and remember, if you get behind, catching up will be harder than finishing the race!
Let us know who you are. As I began to put in the miles for a marathon this time last year, I found myself out on the road for 2 and 3 hours at a time. I normally do not carry anything with me and I definitely do not carry a phone. As I ran I thought to myself, how would my family find out if I had an accident? I immediately purchased an identification bracelet and put the pertinent information needed in case of an emergency. In long distance races where dehydration and fatigue can cause one to not comprehend or communicate effectively, these identification pieces can expedite your care and possibly save your life. Important information would include your name, an emergency contact, any medical allergies or conditions you may have and blood type. Although we never want to experience an emergency doing what we love, small, inexpensive items such as these provide the medical crew with enough information to treat you, quickly and effectively.
Thank the volunteers. Large events such as the Go! St. Louis marathon can be a logistical nightmare. These events would be impossible to pull off without the help of hundreds of volunteers. The coordination and communication needed to shut down a major city for hours during a weekend that saw other major sporting events taking place is no small feat. The race organizers and medical team could not function if not for the help of the many, many volunteers! Next time you have the opportunity, volunteer at a local race and observe from outside the competition, you will find yourself passing out more thank-yous to the volunteers at your next race.
Preparation is the key to a safe and successful race. Although the medical teams at each event are ready and happy to help you if needed, they would rather not see you! Eat well, train hard and stay safe.