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I live in Europe and will be travelling to the US for the Chicago marathon.

I would like to stay a week in the US.

How do you minimize the effects of jet lag for the day of the race? Is it best to arrive to the US ahead of time or right before the race?

Any nutrition advice to speed up recovery?

This question also applies when travelling West to East? Do you apply the same advices when going West-to-East and East-to-West?

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Try to get yourself on the new time zone sleep schedule as soon as possible. The more time zones you change, the longer it takes (about 1 day of recovery per time zone). Traveling East to West for me is much harder than West to East due to lost sleep. –  BackInShapeBuddy Jun 21 '13 at 18:59

2 Answers 2

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Your circadian cycle is synced to the real time using light.

As soon as you can, start exposing your body to light (preferably natural) in the morning of the timezone you want to be at. Then, during the night, make sure it is dark. So, when you get to the US, go for a short early morning run.

Alternatively, figure out what the race time is in your local timezone and do some training at that time. This will accustom you to what it will feel like.

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Have you tested the idea in the last paragraph? I think this could maybe backfire if your body adjusts to the new timezone faster than expected. –  Baarn Jun 27 '13 at 12:48

In both cases West-to-East and East-to-West jet lag does apply (not north and south / south and north). Basically your body and brain are completely out of sync due to the departure time and arrival time when travelling through different time zones.

I strongly suggest arriving a few days (atleast 3, some people prefer 1 week) earlier before your marathon. This will get your body adjusted to sleeping at the correct American / European times respectively.


Melatonin is known to help people with Jet Lag but I suggest not to take that if you are going to be a tested athlete. Some commissions ban the use of melatonin therefore risking you getting disqualified.

Going out in the sun will help you a great deal. Here are some other helpful suggestions:

  • Drink water
  • Frequently eating small meals (fruits and veggies)
  • Sleep
  • Avoid alcohol / caffeine / pre workouts
  • Nap when you feel sleepy
  • Comfortable clothing (some people prefer loose clothing like pyjamas)

Hope this helps,

Good luck on your race!

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