Post-marathon: Allow 2-3 weeks to recover after big race

Maria Ramos helps Jaime Medina stretch after completing the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday. The two are from Colombia. CARL JUSTE cjuste@miamiherald.com
Maria Ramos helps Jaime Medina stretch after completing the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday. The two are from Colombia. CARL JUSTE cjuste@miamiherald.com
Maria Ramos helps Jaime Medina stretch after completing the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday. The two are from Colombia. CARL JUSTE cjuste@miamiherald.com

On Sunday, thousands woke in the predawn hours and headed to American Airlines Arena, where they ran, ran/walked (intervals) or rode special bikes to compete in the Miami Marathon & Half Marathon.

When they crossed the finish line, they got a rush of adrenaline and took a moment — maybe more — to recover.

But sitting still after the race is not the way to go, say sports medicine doctors and experienced marathoners. In fact, there are important steps to take immediately after a big race, and in the days following it, to prevent injury.

“Research shows that muscle, cellular and immune systems are compromised for two to three weeks post-race, so recovery from a marathon is a critical component,” said Dr. Farah Tejpar, a sport medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston. “Runners who don’t recover properly from a marathon put themselves at increased risk of injury and delayed healing.”

Tejpar recommends resting for at least three to four days after a big race before returning to a normal exercise routine. She suggests starting with low-impact cross training or 20 to 30 minutes easy jogging.

“Don’t rush to compete again. Allow your body the time it needs to recovery,” Tejpar said.

Dr. Thomas San Giovanni, an orthopedic surgeon at Miami Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute of Baptist Health South Florida, concurred that rest is essential.

“The next day, runners want to get right back into running because they figured they’ve reached this maximal fitness and they don’t want to lose that,” said San Giovanni, who is also the co-medical director of the Miami Marathon. “That is a common mistake. You want to give your body some time to rest to allow your body to recuperate and restore.”

He advocates a good night’s rest and a well-balanced meal. To help reduce inflammation, take ice baths and keep legs elevated.

After a race, some people may not be able to distinguish between post-race soreness and an injury because it’s common to feel pain and aches.

“Look for swelling and inflammation that lasts and pain that persists,” San Giovanni said. “As the days go by, if it doesn’t seem like you’re getting better, then you may want to seek medical attention or get evaluated.”

Frankie Ruiz, brand manager for the Miami Marathon and chief running officer at Life Time Fitness, says support is crucial in the period immediately after a race.

“Have somebody near by, so that you can lean on them or in case you might need attention,” Ruiz said. “I definitely recommend somebody walk with you through the recovery and that you’re not by yourself.”

Tracy Smith, a marathon runner and director of physical therapy at Cleveland Clinic, completed the Miami Marathon last January in four hours and 27 minutes. She advises athletes to stay hydrated and get some food immediately after a race. Many marathons are stocked with bananas, oranges, bagels and protein bars for the runners at the end of the race.

“You don’t want to overeat because your body doesn’t really digest at that point,” said Smith, 41, who lives in Davie. “But you have to get some calories and some carbohydrates back in.”

She also advises not to stop after a race.

“The key after is to really keep moving,” Smith said. “Not to cross that finish line and sit down. Walk around and enjoy whatever the marathon has for entertainment.”

Paul Sykes would agree. The 50-year-old Coral Gables resident completed the New York City marathon on Nov. 1 and walked a mile to retrieve his personal items.

“At the time, that felt really bad, but it’s actually the best thing that I could have done,” Sykes said. “The last thing you want to do is run 26.2 miles and then sit down and let your legs seize up.”’

According to Ruiz, marathon organizers kept this in mind. At the Miami Marathon, organizers placed the finish line a quarter of a mile from Bayfront Park, where the food and entertainment awaited.

“There’s a purpose to that,” Ruiz said. “So people don’t just come to a complete halt, throw themselves on the ground, and end up needing medical attention.”

Sykes completed the New York Marathon in four hours and 18 minutes. In total, he has run eight marathons and 25 half-marathons. His biggest advice to others is to stay in shape.

“How you recover is impacted a lot by how you prepare,” said Sykes, who had heart surgery for an aortic valve replacement at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach nine months before the New York City race.

Sykes underwent a minimally invasive method that involved a small, five-centimeter incision, resulting in a quick recovery. He was training just three weeks after his surgery.

His surgeon, Dr. Joseph Lamelas, the chief of cardiac surgery at Mount Sinai, recommended a minimally invasive approach because the recovery is more rapid and patients who are athletes can return more quickly to an active lifestyle.

Marathon runners and doctors also advise runners to congratulate themselves once they cross the finish line. Ruiz believes in rewards such as a massage or a small treat.

“A little bit later in the day, it might be time to reach for that dessert,” Ruiz said. “A scoop of ice cream or a key lime pie.”

Although he doesn’t recommend overindulgence, Ruiz does enjoy a sip of soda after completing a big race.

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Cardiac rehabilitation helps build healthy lifestyle for heart patients

Read in Miami Herald.

Anthony “Tony” Turturici lives by the rule that exercise is the key to everything.

The 89-year-old Hollywood Hills resident who suffered his first heart attack in 1998, picked up the habit to keep moving after undergoing a quintuple bypass, an open heart surgery done to treat severely blocked arteries that feed the heart.

He attended 36 one-hour sessions of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation classes for three months at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood and credits the program for being alive and well today.

“I don’t think I would have survived without it,” he said.

Continue reading “Cardiac rehabilitation helps build healthy lifestyle for heart patients”

Apps track foods, fitness — even your daily water supply

For Miami Herald. 

To escape the tedious task of calorie counting by pen and paper, Mike Lee, a programmer who wanted to shed some pounds for his beach wedding, created the nutrition tracker, MyFitnessPal.

Ten years later, MyFitnessPal has helped 75 million users lose 180 million pounds.

Among them is Andrea Ceballos, a Zumba fitness instructor, who has lost 80 pounds thanks to her love for Zumba and the MyFitnessPal app on her iPhone and iPad.

The South Miami resident, originally from the Dominican Republic, was overweight when she moved to Miami five years ago. Zumba helped her lose some of the weight, but she needed more.

“Every time I lost about 20 pounds I plateaued,” said Ceballos, who teaches about 12 classes a week. “And that’s when I started to realize unless I changed my eating habits I wasn’t going to lose any further. That’s when MyFitnessPal came along and helped me.”

The app keeps track of the nutritional value of about four million food items while also tracking a user’s exercise. It has the option to sync with 60 other apps like Fitbit Tracker, MapMyFitness and Garmin Connect.

Here then are our picks for the best nutrition and fitness apps.

Continue reading “Apps track foods, fitness — even your daily water supply”

Run, have fun and support a worthy cause

For Miami Herald.

Alexandra Benitez, 25, used to observe people running races for causes like HIV and cancer, but she never really thought much about it.

Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and large B-cell lymphoma on Nov. 27, 2012 and cleared the same day the following year, Benitez now had a new outlook on life and running.

“I’ve lost a couple friends to cancer,” said Benitez, who is training for her first half-marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training group. She will be running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Jan. 7.

“When I’m running, I have these people in my mind and I’m thinking they didn’t make it and I need to find a cure,” she said. “I need to help. It’s my way of giving back.”

Many people in South Florida can relate to Benitez, because they also use fitness as a way to help causes they feel passionate about.

For more information on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, visit teamintraining.org.

Here are some other organizations in South Florida that give back through fitness.

Continue reading “Run, have fun and support a worthy cause”

Coral Gables man will do Ironman triathlon despite injury

Finishing the last stretch of a five-hour bike ride to and from Everglades National Park, Humberto Speziani was feeling great.

“I was doing awesome,” said Speziani, 51, a Coral Gables resident and father of three. “Other people were complaining about the wind but I was cutting through like a knife.”

Riding at about 20 miles per hour and approaching Black Point Marina in south Miami-Dade, he was about five minutes ahead of his riding group as cars and boats passed him on the road. In a flash, Speziani looked up and saw cars piling up on the road as a boat trailer had gone past the guardrail shoulder, leaving Speziani little space.

“I just really wedged myself through,” said Speziani, who bounced against the boat, lost control and tumbled off the bike, flying shoulder first into the guardrail, damaging his collarbone.

Continue reading “Coral Gables man will do Ironman triathlon despite injury”

Get a smart start to the school year with these fitness programs

For Miami Herald.

BY ADRIANNE RICHARDSON AND CRYSTAL CHEW

Making sure kids eat the right foods and exercise during the school year is a tough task for most parents. But, for one 12-year-old, maintaining a healthy lifestyle has become part of her daily routine.

Aisha Chebbi, a seventh-grader at George Washington Carver Middle School in Coconut Grove, started by giving up soda.

“Sprite was my favorite soda,” Aisha said. “Some people don’t know that they are really bad for you, they can cause heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.”

The next step came when she joined a before-school, hour-long exercise program. She arrived at school at 7:45 a.m. to fit the class into her school day, which began at 9 a.m. “This is where I came up with a lot of ideas about how to make kids healthier.”

Aisha wrote a letter to first lady Michelle Obama, telling her of two initiatives she wanted to develop for students throughout the county: “8 before 8” and “No Sugar for Breakfast.”

In 8 before 8, Aisha wants to emphasize that kids should drink eight glasses of water a day. Aisha carries a water bottle to school so she can hydrate throughout the day. The No Sugar for Breakfast program would make parents and students aware of healthier options for breakfast other than sugary cereals.

“If kids have sugar for breakfast, they are prone to have more sugar and fats in their diet,” said Aisha, who switched from sugary cereals to eating oatmeal or eggs, fresh fruit and drinking milk or water.

After school, she began swimming and playing tennis at a local park.

Obama responded to Aisha’s letter, encouraging her to join her Let’s Move! initiative. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation recently selected Aisha to serve as a Youth Ambassador on the 2014-15 Youth Advisory Board, which focuses on reversing the childhood obesity epidemic.

“When you’re more active and eat better, you feel better and you do better in school,” she said. “You’re more confident.”

Here are places and programs in Miami-Dade County for kids to get on a healthier track.

Continue reading “Get a smart start to the school year with these fitness programs”