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Health & Exercise Forum

Preparing for the Steamtown Marathon

Oct 5, 2012

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumProvisional Bag/First Aide Kit

It is one week away from the 16th Steamtown Marathon. This column is dedicated to all the runners preparing for the big day. One small piece of advice; start slowly, avoid the first mile adrenaline sprint downhill, and enjoy the journey! Remember, only one Olympic marathon winner (Juan Zabala, Argentina, 1932) was in the lead at the 5 mile mark. Lesson: The last miles matter more than the first!

Today, I hope to address some common questions for the novice marathon runner or for those coming from other locations to run in the race. What should you pack? How should I dress? What supplies will I need?

Elite runners are so experienced that they know exactly what to pack in preparation for the big day. However, those, running in marathon for the first or second time usually have lots of questions. First, what you need and what you can bring will depend on your support team. If you are running alone and will not have family or friends meeting you along the way, then you are limited to a fanny pack and a few supplies. If you have a support team, then they can carry a bag with supplies, meet you along the course and you can have a sense of security.

Remember; do not do anything different on race day. Try out special clothing, water with supplements and snacks on a practice run. Also, experiment with your best pre-race meal. You will be getting up at 5-6:00am to catch the bus from Scranton to Forest City. You may want to pack breakfast to eat in the high school gym such as; bagel, peanut butter, jelly, banana and coffee or Gatorade. Moving your bowels before the race is a must.

Dress for the Race

Columbus Day Weekend in NEPA could bring 30 to 40 degree temperatures when you catch the bus in Scranton and at the 8:00 am race starting time in Forest City. Clothing:

  • Hat and Gloves: Wearing a hat, light gloves can be a good idea. DryTech materials are best to prevent retention of sweat.
  • Long Sleeve Shirt and Light Jacket may be necessary. Wearing old items are best so they can be discarded along the way once you are warmed up.
  • Remember, any extra items can be placed in a labeled bag at the starting line and will be transported to the finish line for your convenience. So, if it’s a cold morning, wear a jacket and warm up pants on the bus to the starting line and “bag it!”

Accessories for the Race

  • Sunglasses and Sunscreen: If sun and warm temps are forecasted, sunglasses are best placed on top of your hat until needed and sunscreen applied before the race.
  • Skin Lubrication: Lubricate your skin with petroleum jelly in areas of potential friction such as arm pits, nipples, thighs and feet.
  • Dry Tech Clothing: Wear dry tech protects, including shirt, underwear and socks, to prevent excessive moisture and friction.
  • Favorite Water Source and Snack: Water and light snacks will be provided every 2 miles but sometimes it is good to have your own favorites, especially in the high school gym before the race.
  • Fanny Pack: Especially for those running without a support team

If you don’t mind the little pack on your butt, a fanny pack can be valuable. In it, you will want supplies such as: small bandages, small roll of medical tape, ibuprofen, antacid tablets, small tube of lubricant, favorite running snack, and extra shoe laces. One might also consider packing a little money, credit card, ID, emergency contact numbers and medical insurance cards. A cell phone is optional.

Supply Bag

For those with a support team.

Have your support team meet you at prearrange locations along the race route and bring your supply bag. In the bag, you might consider all of the above fanny pack items and: A change of clothes such as: extra running shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, water proof wind breaker, according to the weather, especially if rain is predicted.  Towels, ace bandages, gauze pads and wrap, antibiotic cream, mole skin, sunscreen, petroleum jelly, safety pins, extra water and favorite sport drink, favorite sport snacks, extra ibuprofen, antacid, anti diarrhea medicine, chemical ice pack, mobile phone, money, credit cards, ID, medical insurance cards.

For those with allergic reactions, remember to pack: epinephrine, antihistamine, and other important medications.

Don’t Forget

Map and directions to the bus or starting line, course map, race number, and get your timing chip.

Enjoy! Enjoy! Smell the roses, take in the fall foliage and chat with a fellow racer. Savor the moment enjoy the day. You are doing something very special!

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an affiliated faculty member at the University of  Scranton, PT Dept.