Running has so many benefits, from reducing stress to keeping your heart healthy – even supporting a strong immune system. That’s why we’re excited to welcome back runners to this year’s Wilmington Marathon on April 17. Here’s how to stay safe – both physically and from COVID-19 – while you’re training for and running the Wilmington Marathon.
Getting Checked Out
If you’ve been keeping up with your running routine during the COVID-19 pandemic and started a specific marathon training program, you might feel prepped and ready to run. But have you seen your primary care physician lately? You may have skipped last year’s annual checkup due to the pandemic. It’s a good idea to see your doctor for a screen of your vitals – like your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels – before the marathon.
“Running is a hard, demanding activity,” said Morgan Heffernan, an NHRMC physical therapist and marathon runner. “You might have elevated blood pressure that runs in your family that might be creeping up on you. A quick vital screen can be helpful.”
If you’re experiencing dizziness or feeling like you’re going to faint, or if you have chronic pain that doesn’t get better with stretching, Heffernan suggests you set up with an appointment with your doctor or physical therapist as soon as possible. Can’t get an appointment? Walk into one of NHRMC’s three express care locations. See hours and locations here.
Keeping Good Habits
While you’re laser-focused on running, make sure you don’t neglect other parts of your marathon prep. Heffernan recommends incorporating strength training into your workouts, focusing on your lower body and core.
For tips on what to eat and drink, listen to these ideas from NHRMC wellness dietitian Ana Evans.
And make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep so your body can rest and recover each day, Heffernan said.
The marathon organizers have put several precautions in place to keep runners safe:
- Runners will start in waves of 50 people (rather than all together), which are staggered every 8 minutes, to help runners maintain their distance from each other. These waves are determined by racers’ estimated finish times, which you must update online before race day. Log into your profile here and update your estimated finish time in the Question Management section.
- The marathon will be a two-loop course starting and finishing in downtown Wilmington rather than the usual point-to-point course. See the race map here.
On race day, runners should follow CDC guidelines to protect themselves and others from COVID-19:
- Running is a high-intensity activity, and the CDC notes it may be more difficult to breathe while running and wearing a mask. If you don’t feel you can wear a mask while running, try to keep a six-foot distance from other runners.
- If you can wear a mask, bring a few masks with you so you can replace it if it gets wet with sweat. The Cleveland Clinic also has tips on what to look for when choosing a face mask for exercising.
Participating in an outdoor event where you aren’t around others for a long period of time is also one of the safest activities you can do during COVID-19, according to the CDC. Outdoor events have better ventilation, and as long as you pass other runners quickly or stay at a safe distance, your risk of contracting the virus is low. COVID-19 has a higher risk of transmission the longer you spend in proximity to someone.