Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Training Tips For Marathons

2009 Baltimore Marathon runners
2009 Baltimore Marathon runners (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes when beginning to train for marathons, you'll make rookie mistakes. Safari Charles of Owing Mills, MD learned some hard foot lessons after running in her first half-marathon last fall. As Charles runs in her first full marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival in October, she believes that she has learned from her prior mistakes. "I was kind of lackadaisical about training for the half. I didn't prepare as best I could. You can't run a full marathon without training properly," said Charles.
Things Charles learned include: wear shoes that fit, or your toenails will turn black. Run with a group for motivation and support. Carry water and stay hydrated. Charles now has bigger shoes and trains with the group Black Girls Run, making sure to stay hydrated.
With a little bit of knowledge and proper training, you can avoid making mistakes that can become costly injuries. "It's the only sport where you have to plan months in advance what you eat, what you wear, when you're going to run. It takes a lot of thought and planning. People who get hurt usually aren't the ones who follow a program. They are the ones who train haphazardly," said Dr. John Senatore, veteran marathoner and chief of podiatry at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore.
When you decide that you are going to do a marathon, you are probably very excited and anxious to get out and run. Many people sign up for the half-marathon, 13 miles, and will try to go out immediately and do all 13 miles. However, you're setting yourself up for failure.
Coaches suggest following a training program that involves three to four short runs during the week and one long run on the weekend, with the latter increasing in distance each week. Try not to train by yourself, as training with a group keeps you motivated and on track. Those who train alone often run too fast and get bored by themselves.
Long runs will get the runner accustomed to being on their feet for long periods of time. These runs should be at a slower pace than on race day. Senatore suggests running your last long run three weeks before the marathon to allow your muscles to recover.
Senatore recommends using training programs to help you ease into running, such as New York Road Runners training programs, or those created by nationally known marathon runner Jeff Galloway, who promotes a combination of running and walking to be injury free.
DeNita Morrison, who trains with Charles in Black Girls Run follows the program designed by Hal Higdon, whose plan gradually gets people into running. "He starts you off very slowly and builds you up so you don't feel overwhelmed," said Morrison.
Cross-training should be an integral part of your training to help prevent wear and tear of the same muscle groups and help with conditioning. Runners should mix bicycling, swimming, and weight training.
Runners should also pay attention to what they are wearing on the day of the race. Shoes need to be replaced every 300 to 500 miles, and shoes that are too tight, short, or ill-fitting can cause blisters, knee pain, and toenails to turn black and fall off. Cotton clothing should be avoided as cotton absorbs sweat and can weigh the runner down. Look for performance apparel that absorbs and wicks the sweat away. That goes for socks as well. Some runners may need insoles to keep their feet stable.
Eating right and hydrating is key to keeping your energy up throughout the race. During a long run runners should carry water and drink every 15 to 20 minutes. Dehydration can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke in severe cases. Try out different kinds of food, since when you're running your stomach can handle only certain types of fuel.
"Once you're running and you're thirsty, then you're done. You're going to tank out. When you have nothing left in the tank, that's called hitting the wall. If you prepare and do what you're supposed to, you shouldn't hit the wall," said Senatore.
Most importantly, listen to your body. When you are in pain, it may be a sign to stop the race. Better to stop the race early on than run the entire marathon and further injure yourself.

If you are a runner who gets a foot injury, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown, CT
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