Are you fit and ready for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2011?

Following is the transcript of the live chat held with Dr Aashish Contractor, preventive cardiologist and rehabilitation on January 10 at 12pm

Roy: hi doctor. I have weak hamstring muscles, though i have been practising for the half marathon for the last 3months, are there any stretches or precautionary measures i need to take before the main run
DrContractor: Roy, if you have weak hamstring muscles, the key is to strengthen them. Stretching will not help in that process. Honestly, with the marathon on Sunday, its too late to start that process, but after its over you should start resistance (weight) training at least twice a week for strengthening.

Savio: I'm not really practicing for the marathon, but have a daily regime of 20 mins of yoga in the morning and 45 mins badminton on alternate days. Does this serve as enough aerobic exercise to participate in a marathon?
DrContractor: Savio, what distance are you planning to participate in.

Roy: what should be my total water intake before, after and during the marathon
DrContractor: You should have approx 300ml of fluid for every 15-20 min of running outdoors in our weather, especially as the day gets hotter. Pre-run you don’t need to specifically take in any extra water, but a light breakfast and 200-300 ml of fluid about 1.5 hours before the race would be good

gaurish: i signed up for the dream run, but I’ve not had the time to practise for it. While I can probably walk that distance, I’m sure I won't be able to run or jog it. Would it be fine for me to participate in the marathon? I intend to more or less walk the distance with small running in between. Is there anything I should watch out for or precautions? I am 30 yrs old.
DrContractor: Gaurish, there is no 'restriction' on walking the distance, and that’s what I suggest you do if you have not prepared adequately. It would be good to prepare well in advance for next year. I do feel that it’s important to prepare appropriately and challenge your body- that’s the spirit of the marathon. But at the same time, it should not be a last minute challenge as that can prove to be more harmful than good.

Roy: since im a first time runner, how do i know whether the muscle pain which i may face while running or after running is good and is just bcoz of musle exhauion or something serious
DrContractor: roy, by now you must have done several long runs in preparation. therefore you will have some idea about normal muscle exhaustion. if you get pain in the chest region, or shoulders or jaws you should defi slow down and stop as they could be cardiac pains. pains in leg muscles may be cramps which can usually be relieved by stretching and adequate hydration

Huzefa: I have never thought about running a marathon before. At the moment I'm not even remotely close to the required fitness level. I wanted to know what the health benefits would be for this kind of activity.
DrContractor: huzefa, there are tremendous health benefits of running, ranging from prevention of most chronic lifestyle diseases (like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some types of cancers) to just 'feeling good'. however for health benefits you need not run a marathon. 30-45 mins of running or other aerobic exercise 3-5 days a week would be good enough. marathon running is more for a sense of 'achievement'

lisa: Hello im running the marathon for the first time and im quite regular at the gym but i needed to know what kind of diet i need to follow to be upto the mark
DrContractor: lisa, carbohydrates are the core fuel for runners, so your diet does need to be high in carbs - about 50-60%. if you are running the full marathon you need to 'carbo load' , that is, have even more carbs on the last 3-4 days before the event. proteins should be 15-20% and the rest should be fats.

Savio: Is it necessary to do a cardio checkup before i participate in the marathon (half marathon), I am 30 years old.
DrContractor: savio, its not necessary, but not a bad idea to do it. in your earlier question you had said you were not really practicing. in that case, i do not recommend you run on sunday- it can be harmful

Roy: how do i cut the risks of experiencing a sun stroke during the run
DrContractor: roy, by wearing a cap and dark glasses, if you are comfortable in them (dont try it for the first time on race day) and by adequate hydration

Huzefa: What kind of shape should one be in for marathon running. Is there any way to know when one is ready for it?
DrContractor: h- to start training for the half marathon, you should be in a condition where you can run 5 km, 3-4 days a week comfortably. you then need about 10 weeks minimum after that to train. for the full- you should be able to run 8 km, 4-5 days a week comfortably. you then need 20 weeks preparation after that.

gaurish: thanks doctor. i'll walk the distance then. do you have any advice as to what i can have for breakfast before the marathon?
DrContractor: g- something light- maybe a banana or some other fruit. or a cereal bar, or even a light sandwich or idli. eat what you are used to

Roy: what should i carry with me in terms of food and drinks for the run
DrContractor: r- both water and lucozade (energy drink) are available on the course. you dont need to carry anything with you. if you are used to carrying some food stuff on your previous long runs then do so. dont do new stuff on race day.

Bhumi: How Do I Avoid Hitting the Wall in a Marathon?
DrContractor: b- good question. i assume you mean the full marathon. one rarely 'hits the wall' in a half marathon. eat larger than normal amount of carbs 3-4 days before race day. along the course, make sure you consume the energy drink available. have a light bfast before leaving home.

elric: hi, i've been preparing for the half marathon for the past 6 months, however most of my running has been the gym on a threadmill. is there anything i need to watch out for when i'm actually running on the road. also, since the weather seems a bit unpredictable these days, being cold and hot, are there any precautions i need to take?
DrContractor: e- nothing you can do at this point, regarding road running.  in terms of weather, dress for hot weather rather than cold. after the first few km your body will generate its own heat. if feeling very cold at the start carry an old t shirt and wear it on top, and discard it after the first few km. maybe have a friend stand by the side of the road if you dont want to throw it away.  

Sanjana: Hi Doctor, Do u think sports drinks are useful before a run? what do u suggest?
DrContractor: s- they are more useful during and after the run. if doing the full or half marathon, you could have 400-500 ml about an hour or so before the race, that might help too.

elric: thanks doctor... are there any 'warning signs' i should keep in mind to know when to stop running?
DrContractor: e- chest discomfort, giddiness, difficulty in breathing (different from normal fatigue). if you get any of these, slow down and stop and seek medical attention

Huzefa: I was wondering about what you said about dressing for the run. If we dress for hot weather and its 12-15C outside. Wont we catch a cold? Also wont our muscles get stiff?
DrContractor: h- you are unlikely to catch a cold. muscles warm up very quickly. but like i said, if you personally find it very cold then dress in layers and remove them as you run

elric: is it necessary to have water everytime you pass a water station or should i only drink water if i feel thirsty? is there any fixed distance between water stations? also, do i need to worry about lost salts while drinking water ?
DrContractor: e- you dont need to have it at every station. roughly every 15-20 min. a lot depends on the weather on that day, and also what you're used to in your training runs. not advisable to do something very different on race day.

Bhumi:  What if I have my moderate drinking session, the evening before the marathon? Will it affect my performance?
DrContractor: i would not recommend that. alcohol tends to be dehydrating 

Roy:  what's the best way to cool down after a marathon? i mean imediately after the marathon as well as for the rest of the day
DrContractor: r- immediately after, i suggest walking for 5-10 min and then a good round of stretching. have plenty of fluids throught out the day and have a nice celebratory lunch soon after finishing, and enjoy the day

admin:  Hi, That's all we have time for. Thanks for participating in the chat. Hope your doubts are clarified. All the Best!!

admin:  If you have any more questions for Dr Contractor, log on to

DrContractor: thanks and enjoy the day

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