It's still summer, and it's still a pandemic. But I know that many of you are kicking off marathon training season. (I'm hoping the Chevron Houston Marathon isn't cancelled!)
I'm proud of all my running patients. Especially all of you who are training outdoors in this heat! But, I want you to take the time and effort now to make sure you meet that goal without getting hurt.
You see, running a marathon is a big decision. You can't take it lightly. Training takes a lot of time and dedication. And it puts so much strain on your body. Not sure you can do it? Consider these three things: your health, your time, and your support system.
Am I Healthy Enough to Run a Marathon?
This should be your biggest deciding factor. Talk to your doctor about training goals if you have diabetes, osteoporosis,or other chronic conditions. The same is true if you're obese, because the strain of training can lead to health complications. You also have to consider your past medical history. Had a stress fracture in your legs or feet? Prone to ankle sprains? Regularly daling with heel pain or plantar fasciitis? Before you start training, take careful precautions to prevent a recurring condition. It’s also a good idea to consult with your podiatrist before choosing your running shoes. In fact, you may want to add the support of a custom orthotic to help prevent injury.
How Much Time Does Marathon Training Demand?
Do you have enough time to train for the race? That's a good question! Maybe working from home has freed up your schedule. But the next question is, by how much? Training for a marathon is very time consuming, especially in the last month. Start planning out times of day when you can fit in runs that take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than 3 hours!
You also need to spend months training. So good for you if you're starting now! Taking your time lets you slowly build up endurance. It means you have time for rest days. Plus, you can keep up with strength training. And be sure you have time for stretching before and after you run. Not to mention the time to stop running for a bit if your body doesn’t feel right. Aim for a months-long training period, especially if this is your first race. That way, you won't have to push through pain to reach your goals.
This is true if you’re a seasoned runner or a newbie. You need to approach marathon training with caution. Don’t make every run a long run; don’t run every day. Rest is crucial for all runners, especially those of you who are logging long distances.
Cross Training for Marathoners
Now let's talk schedules. You have to build in rest days. And you should mix short runs with longer ones. But it’s also important to workout with weights and try other types of cardio.
People get hurt when they do the same exercise over and over again. That’s because you put pressure on the same muscles and bones without allowing any time for healing. (That's why we call problems like stress fractures overuse injuries.)
The good news is, they're usually preventable. If you strength train, you build up the muscles that support your runs. The same thing happens when you switch up your cardio. Why? When you switch to the elliptical for cardio, you redistribute the stress impact. And that gives your muscles extra rest between runs. All while building cardio endurance. Follow these tips and you'll go a long way to preventing running injuries.
Just don't forget about blisters. These nasty, fluid-filled bumps can also derail your training. So check out the video at the bottom of this page for tips to keep blisters from killing your marathon training.
Find Your Marathon Cheerleaders
The final thing to consider when deciding to run a marathon is your support system. Who is it that most wants to see you finish your race? Most people do not think about this when deciding to run a marathon but it is very important. If you're married, but your husaband doesn't want you to train, that's a problem. Whatever his reason, whether its the cost of your gear, or the time you spend training, his negitivity could derail you.
And that's the opposite of the positive mental motivator you need to keep you going. If you hope to run the full 26.2, you need support from your friends and family. You need to know they'll to be there through your training and on the big race day. Deciding to run a marathon is a big decision. So consider your health, time, and support system when you make it. Marathons are very challenging endeavors. And they aren't for everyone.
Not ready to go the full distance? That's nothing to be ashamed of. I'd rather see you carefully build up your endurance and work up to distance running. That's a safer option than going full out on a race you shouldn't run.
Now, if you are ready to train, that's great! But let me leave you with one thought: before you start training, come into my office. I can analyze your gait (how you move while you run) so we know where your weaknesses are. Once we have your movement map, I'll help you select the right shoes for your body. I'll know if orthotics will help you. And we'll figure out a safe training plan that will prevent running injuries. But I can't help if you don't come in, so schedule your consult today!