Medical Advice

Medical Advice

There are enormous health benefits to participating in and training for the Irish Life Dublin Marathon and the Irish Life Race Series. However, it is also a huge physical challenge, which requires a sensible and safe approach. It is essential that you are properly prepared and that you follow a carefully structured training programme that will help you complete each of the race series and also the marathon (if you are taking part) while also safeguarding your health.

We advise that you do not participate on any race day unless you have achieved the recommended mileage in your training runs and urge you to take the time to understand issues surrounding hydration, fuel and any medications you might be taking.

Please make sure that you read our comprehensive guide below, ahead of taking part in the Race Series.

The Basics

Are you fit enough to take part?

If you have any medical conditions such as cardiac problems, asthma or diabetes it is essential that you discuss with your General Practitioner (GP) whether there is any medical reason why you should not run or train or run in any distance event(s). They know the benefits of training but also the effects on your body. They may advise against you running the distance and if they do, you must take their advice.

Please remember that you may need to make adjustments to your medication or treatment when running long distances.

If you have a medical problem that may lead to you having a blackout, such as fits or diabetes, write in the details, especially your medication on the reverse of the number.

If you would like more generalised advice from the Irish Life Dublin Marathon medical team then send us an email.  Unfortunately, we are unable to provide specific advice to you because we do not know the details of your medical history; any changes to treatment must be made by your GP who is in a position to balance any risks and benefits.

You can email:


Whether or not you have a medical problem, it is important that you regularly carry out your own medical risk assessment regarding your ability to train and take part. Every day you need to decide whether you are fit to train. It is essential that you do not run if you are ill or have recently been ill. For example, you should not run if you have a viral infection; even a bad cold can be harmful when pushing your body.

Heart Disease/ Problems and Screening

Runners may very well be unaware when they have a heart problem. Their condition would have been detected if medical advice had been sought and relevant tests carried out. A ‘fitness test’ is not sufficient to detect these problems.

If you have a family history of heart disease or sudden death, or you have symptoms of heart disease {chest pain, discomfort on the chest during exertion, shortness of breath or rapid palpitations (feeling your heart beating fast)}, please see your GP who can arrange for you to have a proper cardiac assessment. Please remember such assessment may not be instantly available, but continuing to run with these symptoms may be catastrophized!!

 Do NOT Run if You Feel Unwell

Leading up to race day, one of the bravest decisions any runner has to make is not to run if they have been unwell. If you find yourself in this dilemma, no matter how hard you have trained, despite how much money you have raised in sponsorship or how much you have been looking forward to the race, it is essential for your own health and safety and indeed for that of others, that you do not run if you are unwell or unfit in any way.

Medications and Pain Killers

You should also be very careful to avoid NSAID medications whilst training and racing. Drugs such as larger doses of aspirinvoltarol (diclofenac) and ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen) can cause kidney problems when combined with high-intensity exercise, and in very rare cases can affect bowel function. If pain relief is required, please use paracetamol instead. Please discuss this with your GP if you take any of these medications regularly. If your GP is not available, please log into your VideoDoc (which you can have access to if 2 days before, during the race day and 2 days after if you subscribed to the service)

You should also consult your GP if you take any medications that can make you more susceptible to heatstroke or collapse, such as thyroxine, blood pressure medications or a number of moods stabilising drugs or antidepressants.

Finally, drugs to dry up runny noses or for hay fever, which contain drugs such as pseudoephedrine or oxymetazoline, can increase your blood pressure and interfere with the heart’s electrical circuitry and so should be avoided for a few days prior to the race and not taken whilst training. Stimulants of any kind should not be used. Again, for any questions, please consult your GP.


Muscular aches and pains occur most commonly after an increase in training. Training should be increased gradually so that you do not suffer prolonged exhaustion and intersperse days of heavy mileage with one or two days of lighter training so that your body can replace its fuel (muscle glycogen). Rest days are also important.

If you have flu, a feverish cold or a tummy bug, do not train until you have fully recovered. Then start gently and build up gradually. Do not attempt to catch up on lost mileage after illness or injury – this may cause further damage or illness. To reduce injury risk, train on soft surfaces when you can, especially on easy training days. Vary routes, do not always use the same shoes and run on differing cambers, hills, etc. Always face oncoming traffic, especially in the dark.

PLEASE NOTE: If you cannot run 15 miles (24.14km) comfortably one month before the marathon, you will not manage it in safety or enjoy it.

Please do not run on this occasion.

Fuelling Up

By now you will already be aware that you need to have adequate amounts of fuel onboard to enable you to run regularly. It is essential that you pay attention to the quantity and type of fuel you use before, during and after training and especially on the day of the race. Getting the right balance, in the type and amount of fluid you drink and fuel you take in, is critical for performance and safety. Please do not change your diet drastically in the last week before the marathon. We would advise you to read the following advice.

There are many other good sources of information on diet, nutrition and food balance, however, everyone is different and it is essential that you rehearse this during your training programme. Please also avoid caffeine and alcohol the night before the race due to their dehydrating effects.

If You Feel Unwell During the Race

If you feel yourself getting confused or too hot, or very weak, this may be a sign of heatstroke and you must stop immediately and get help from one of the medical team. Heatstroke is a very serious condition, common in runners doing marathons. Those that suffer severe consequences are those that don’t listen to their body saying stop. It is much safer to stop than push yourself and collapse before the finish line.

Medical Services on Race Day

If you do need any of the medical services on the day we have a highly experienced medical team in place. Festimed provides the first aiders and helps with issues such as Vaseline and abrasion injuries. They will also be managing the first aid tents, and ambulances. For more seriously unwell runners we have a team of doctors (depending on the mileage involve in the Race Series); advanced paramedics, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, cardiac first responders and nurses working in conjunction with the Festimed Team. These are highly skilled and qualified personnel working under the direction of the Medical Director.

Once You’ve Finished

You have just put your body through a considerable amount of exertion. It is especially important for you to be extra careful during these next few hours following the race. Here are a few tips to help you through your recovery period. If any of your symptoms get worse or do not go away completely then you should access the VideoDoc (doctors operating in telemedicine consultation have direct access to me for further discussions for Dublin Marathon only) or see your General Practitioner – be sure to tell them you have recently taken part in a run.

Symptoms to Look Out For

If you have symptoms such as feeling light-headed, dizzy, nauseous, vomiting, confused, short of breath, developing muscle aches or cramps which will not go away, then you should stop running and seek medical advice during the course.

If you feel unwell after the race, you should also not drink alcohol.


In Summary

Please take care and listen to your body.

Make sure you train properly, following a good training plan well ahead of Race Day.

Consult your GP if you have any medical problems or are taking medications. If you are feeling unwell before any races, DO NOT run

If you become unwell during the race, stop and seek medical advice at the nearest first aid station or access VideoDoc if you have any issues you are unsure off and keen to get medical advice.

Avoid taking NSAID medications/ painkillers on race day

Drink sensibly during the race and do not take too much or too little fluids

Consult the manufacturer’s advice on consuming energy drinks or gels

If you feel unwell after the race, seek advice.

Thank you for reading; have a fantastic (and safe) race(s).

Dr. Ui May Tan (Medical Director of the Irish Life Dublin Marathon and the Race Series)

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