Diving and Marathon Training – Planning Ahead

I’m leaving to go on vacation late next week, which includes some planned scuba diving. I didn’t think anything of this when we planned the trip, but I’m not sure how the high level of training (high level for me) will work with diving. I found one study that suggests exercise before diving could protect against decompression sickness (“DCS” or “something you never want”). This page recommends four hours between exercise and diving, or six between diving and exercise. From reading dive forums, it does sound like there have been other studies linking exercise (everything I read seemed to indicate post-diving exercise was the bigger risk factor than pre-diving exercise) and an increased risk of DCS. I also saw one forum specifically mention that the effect of long runs on DCS risk has not been studied.

What does this all mean? To me, this means exercise caution. I’m an inexperienced diver, so I plan to err on the side of being overly conservative. Based on what I’ve read, this is my very preliminary plan for balancing training and diving on vacation:

a) Talk to dive master about the plan, and adjust if recommended.
b) Try to train according to plan, but pay special attention to how my body is feeling. It’s ok to skip or shorten a run here and there (repeat x5).
c) Dive less than I would when not training. 1-2 dives a day is plenty. Sit out the harder/deeper dives, or only dive once on a deeper dive day.
d) Run in the morning. Everything I’ve read suggests that exercise before diving is less risky than post-dive exercise and possibly even beneficial.
e) Consider not diving at all on workout day/long run day.

This is a preliminary/untested plan, so please don’t take it as advice. I will post later with how everything worked out. If you have any experience or expertise on the subject, I’d love to get your input on how to balance a diving vacation with marathon training.

PS: in case anyone was wondering, I plan to keep a safe distance from stingrays 🙂

UPDATE: I did not get DCS, and I did not adhere to my training plan. I did some running, outlined here, but not nearly as much as I expected.

Even though I train in the relative heat and humidity of Atlanta, that didn’t adequately prepare me for running in the tropics. And that’s okay. I didn’t do a long run, and my attempt at a faster workout was borderline ridiculous.

If I have this situation arise again, this is how I will approach it:

  • IT’S JUST ONE WEEK. Do what you can, don’t sweat the rest. Most of us are working 48 weeks out of the year. Enjoy vacation. To the extent there is time/energy for training, I’d recommend the following:
    • Easy running/brisk walking: walking around is a great way to see the sights in a remote location, and in the tropical heat, a brisk walk can be very good cardio with minimal risk.
    • Strides: It’s vacation, and strides are fun. A good way to get in a little faster running without killing yourself.
    • Bodyweight strength work: This is a great time to catch up on the ancillary work we all shortcut during normal training. Planks on the beach, anyone?
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One thought on “Diving and Marathon Training – Planning Ahead

  1. Pingback: St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 8 Weeks to Go | Racing Oprah

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