Our race doctor, Dr. med. Konrad Birrer, cites four main causes of exhaustion:
- too warm clothing
- poor race planning and pacing
- inappropriate nutrition
- overestimating one's own performance
He recommends that even at temperatures below 10° Celsius, one should run with a layer of a functional runner's undershirt. At these temperatures, there is no need for a jacket, a second layer of clothing, or long pants. It is even beneficial to start the race slightly cooled down. To keep warm when it is very cold, take an old pair of sweats and a sweater with you that you can throw into the provided clothing collection before the start. Stay in motion.
Recreational athletes who take pain medication often reassure themselves that these drugs are not on the doping list. However, one thing that is often overlooked is that pain is a natural signal from the body that is intended to prevent long-term problems by avoiding tissue damage. It would be better to take these alarm signals seriously and listen to them, rather than shutting them off with medication. Pain is an indication of overuse. Exercise naturally produces a pain reliever, adrenaline. If that is not enough, then the exercise should be stopped or the load should be reduced.
During a competition, the body has to perform at its best. If it is slowed down by allergic reactions caused by medication, one problem has been solved, but another has been replaced. Often, these reactions occur together with allergy symptoms - a doctor called in such a situation could make a completely wrong diagnosis.
Therefore: Do not take any medication without a prescription from a doctor. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist about the use of medication during physical activity.
Don't start the race too fast. The first kilometers can be used for warming up. Starting too fast due to overmotivation will be paid for dearly during the marathon or half marathon. If there is water, snow or ice on the ground, or if the terrain is uneven or there are obstacles, shorten your steps slightly to avoid accidents.
Regularly drinking isotonic drinks up to about 1 liter per hour is recommended, even at cooler temperatures. However, this rule of thumb should be adjusted depending on the outdoor temperature and sweating rate.
If you don't feel well during the race (chest pain, heavy breathing, dizziness, exhaustion, severe pain, etc.), you should stop running and report to the next medical station.
Rising temperatures / heat
As the heat and humidity increase, so does the risk of heat-related medical problems. Respect your limits. Heat and humidity make running more challenging and it can lead to health problems if you push beyond what your body can handle. Don't try to achieve a personal best on a hot, muggy day, especially if you're not used to such conditions.
Recognize the signs of heat problems. If you feel weak, dizzy, or disoriented, or if your skin is clammy and unusually hot or cold, slow down or stop the race. If symptoms persist, sit down or lie in the shade and seek medical help. Protect yourself from the sun. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your head, face, and eyes from the sun's rays. Use sunscreen for any exposed skin, even on cloudy days.
You did it! Congratulations! After crossing the finish line, quickly change into dry and, if necessary, warm clothes. Arrange to meet someone at an easily identifiable location where you can get your spare clothes. You can also deposit a bag with fresh clothes in the wardrobe.
Dr. Birrer and his team of doctors and paramedics are happy if you follow these measures and do not need medical assistance.