How Can I Reduce Jet Lag Before My Race?

jet lag before race

“I’m flying in from the West Coast before the Boston marathon. I’m worried about the three-hour time difference. Any suggestions for reducing the effects of jet lag for the race?”

When traveling to a different time zone for a big race, it’s always a good idea to get there a couple days before to adjust to the time difference. Some experts say to allow one day for every hour of time difference. Here are some other suggestions for reducing jet leg:

Get proper sleep before you leave. Get plenty of sleep, and avoid sleep deprivation before your trip. (This is always good advice before a big race, regardless!) Try to gradually shift your sleep schedule (30 to 60 minutes per day) toward that of your destination for a few days prior to departure.

Stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water on the plane, and limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption. You’ll know you’re well-hydrated if your urine is light yellow, like lemonade.

Get comfy on the plane. If you need to sleep on the plane, use earplugs to reduce noise exposure. Wear cozy socks and take off your shoes. Bring a comfortable pillow and blanket. But try not to use sleeping pills or alcohol to induce sleep.

Move around on the plane. During the flight, stretch, perform mild isometric exercises, and walk (at least every hour) in order to minimize muscle stiffness and the risk for thrombosis associated with prolonged inactivity. Staying hydrated should help ensure that you move periodically, as you’ll probably have to get up to use the bathroom.

Watch what you eat. Upon arrival, avoid heavy or exotic/spicy meals (which is good pre-marathon advice whether you’re flying or not), since GI distress is one of the most common symptoms of jet lag.

Go for a short walk or easy run. Once at your destination, you may want to take a short walk or go for a very easy run to reduce muscle stiffness. Use a foam roller or other massage tool to roll out any tight spots.

Also see: Marathon Running Quotes

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