Dr. Gary Mak - Specialist in cardiology and President of the Hong Kong Association of Sports Medicine and Sports Science
After the long Christmas and New Year holidays, runners should increase their exercise, diet and sleeping pattern discipline in order to prepare for the race in 1 months’ time.
Adjustment in Training:
At this stage, full marathon runners can have a 32km or above long distance training and run with full capacity racing speed. While training volume should be reduced in the following 2-3 weeks to allow the body to be prepared for the challenge on race day. Runners should continue their ongoing running schedule as planned and add in interval cross training to maintain the cardiopulmonary function while avoiding excessive training to the muscles used for running.
Diet and Sleeping Pattern:
It is time for runners to adjust their biological clock in a progressive manner and adapt to the time of the race; on the Standard Chartered Marathon race day, the first batch of runners set off at 5:30am. Runners who usually practice at night, should adjust their bedtimes starting from weekends or holidays and switch to morning practices.
It is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet; runners should be careful with the intake of carbohydrates, protein and fat proportions. Stimulants like excessive alcohol and cigarette smoking should be avoided.
Please refer to, for more training related diet tips by Miss Sylvia Lam, our Team Marathon Expert.
Personal assessment before race:
Marathon race is a high intensity competitive sports that demands a high level of cardiovascular fitness. You should therefore know your body before you participate.
In the past few years, the number of amateur participants increased. Many of these amateur runners were over 40 years of age and have significant cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, history of heart disease or stroke. The recommended self-assessment questionnaire and the 4 steps medical evaluation by doctors are especially helpful in these high risk individuals.
While soft heart murmur are common in athletes, prominent murmur demand further medical assessment with echocardiogram.
Performing high intensity exercise during viral infections (such as “flu” or diarrhea) might prompt them to develop acute myocarditis which can lead to very serious consequences. One should therefore skip training and not to race when they are not feeling well, especially if they are having a fever.
To avoid excessive stress related to the element of competing, leisure marathon runners should keep a constant pace and enjoy the run rather than focusing on the finishing time and position.