Marathon directors around the country are noticing a significant increase in race registration. In some races, registration for the half-marathon has surpassed that of the marathon. Races are being sold out months ahead of time. Last month, the Chevron Houston Marathon had announced that it was increasing their field by 4,000 runners and equally dividing the available positions for the full and half marathons. Seasoned runners complain that they get shut out of races because of all of the rookies running. I invite them to remember back to their first marathon.

It seems with each year there are more marathon training programs. Many are local, some online, and are often associated with charities, such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training, American Heart Association Train to End Stroke, and Arthritis Foundation Joints in Motion. Don't get me wrong, I am as big an advocate for exercise, especially running, as anyone. The problem with these programs is that they do not always prepare the runner adequately for the race.

I have identified the three main problems that are experienced with many marathon training programs. You will see that all come down to the individual participant and not the well-meaning program.

1. If you are joining a program...stick with the program. Many participants see the program as a buffet: choose the days they want to run and complete the workouts. Pick and choose from the workouts what they really want to do. The running programs all have a head coach. The national programs have well known names, such as Jeff Galloway, and local coaches at the chapter level. The local programs will have local experts. They work hard to have a progressive and well thought out program, usually different for each running level.

2. Don't be your own coach. Aside from the head coach, there are usually local experts running the group and are available to answer question. In the case of online programs, there are message boards and email access to the coaches. If you have a training issue, find a coach to ask. If you make the decision yourself, you can be putting yourself at risk for injury. If you are with a program. Take advantage of the resources it provides.

3. Don't play doctor. Marathon training is grueling. Over the months, one thing or another is bound to be sore. A rule of thumb: If a pain lasts more than three days, get it checked out. The sooner you get an injury addressed, the faster you can return to pursuing your goal. In this instance, a trainer, message board, or coach should not be relied upon. Be sure to find a podiatrist in Houston, TX who focuses on biomechanics and sports medicine to evaluate you.

Training for a 26.2 mile race is difficult and puts lots of stress on the body. Training programs are good, but you must follow the coaches and listen to your body to ensure a safe experience.


Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist in Houston, TX and is the medical director of Tanglewood Foot Specialists. He treats all injuries and conditions of the foot and ankle. For more information, to order his Free book on foot pain, and for many informative videos, visit and his blog at


Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.