Train Well 4: Tips for a Happy/Safe Biofreeze SF Marathon, by Dr. Jeff (Advice from the Medical Tent)

As you prepare for race weekend, we have one final bit of advice from Dr. Jeff:


  1. To reduce your chance of post-BSFM illness, don’t shake hands. Hugs reduce blood pressure, release good chemicals in the body, and do not transmit microbes.
  2. Skip the carb loading meal and run empty (see Train Well 1 blog: Carb Loading Myth).
  3. Plan gear/transport to start to reduce stress/race day decisions (conserves mental energy).

Sunday – Race Day

  1. Before the start, avoid caffeine (heart irritant) and calories (raises insulin levels for 3 hours reducing release of fat for fueling muscles – see Train Well 3 blog: Eating During a Marathon Myth).
  2. Since all pain medications have toxic side effects, avoid Tylenol (causes liver damage at any dose), nonsteroidal drugs (cause kidney damage and negate the beneficial effects of training) and narcotics (cause constipation, itching, nausea and respiratory depression) before/during The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon while your organs are maximally stressed due to reduced blood flow to kidney/liver to provide more flow to muscles. Drugs may reduce symptoms (pain), but do not induce healing.The only pain therapy without side effects is ice (recovery after ice is 2x faster than heat). Ice reduces inflammation, cell activity and oxygen demand. When ice is removed, the redness indicates increased blood flow (hyperemia) which allows the body to efficiently remove damaged muscle fibers.
  3. Do not overhydrate. During the Boston Marathon, hyponatremia (can cause death) was found in 15% of runners and was more common with drinking every mile (set schedule), longer run times, and in women (smaller blood volume is more easily diluted). Sports drink consumption did not reduce hyponatremia. Since The Biofreeze SF Marathon is usually cool, let thirst and sweat rate guide your fluid intake.
  4. Run happy. Savoring your experience intensifies and lengthens the joy and memories. Enjoy the people and scenery instead of focusing on your time or feet (which reduces running efficiency). Savor the finish by resting on the grass and looking at the sky (instead of your phone). Taking in calories immediately after a marathon is not necessary or supported by science. Avoid alcohol for many hours since breakdown products (aldehydes) produce additional damage until organ recovery.
  5. Although changing your consumption behavior/habits is difficult, understand that your body does not require sports drink or calories during a marathon.

Run smart, happy, safe, empty, pure. Hope NOT to see you in the medical tent.

Wishing you healthy organs,
(Dr. Jeff has completed 15 SF Marathons)

Put this advice to work at The 2018 Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon! #ThisIsHappening #BiofreezeSFM

“If I can motivate an attendee/reader to change a habit to improve their health, it makes my day job easier.” – Dr. Jeff Shapiro

A graduate of Yale & Stanford, Jeff coaches (since 1993) those seeking peak wellness through science. Jeff appeared on ABC News 20/20 (“Super Humans”), and consulted for CBS News 60 Minutes (“The Toughest Race”) and The Late Show with David Letterman. Jeff has completed 50 marathons, served as medical director for the San Francisco Marathon, and lectured at numerous organizations, including Google, B of A, Merrill Lynch, and SanDisk.

Save the Date!

Join Jeff at the next Golden Gate Relay – California’s Longest Party, held the first weekend in May. In the long run (walk or ride), organ donation saves lives!

Gather 12 friends/2 vans. Dress your best (costumes/decorated vans optional). Walk (125 miles, 6-12 walkers), run (125, 160 or 190 miles, 6-12 runners), or ride (30, 65, 130 or 190 miles, 1-3 riders).  Support 125,000 Americans waiting for organs as a runner, walker, rider, volunteer or organ donor!

1 Reply to "Train Well 4: Tips for a Happy/Safe Biofreeze SF Marathon, by Dr. Jeff (Advice from the Medical Tent)"

  • comment-avatar
    July 27, 2018 (9:22 am)

    Great to hear from you again – I’ve attended several of your lectures and always come away with information I can use.. Thanks for presenting the science – and NOT the marketing hype..