Pappas OPT Physical Therapy’s Running Guide
Our patients who are training for a race often ask us what they need to know to stay healthy through the course of their training regime and on through race day. So, we figured it was high time we shared our pro tips.
So, whether you’re running for the first time, occasionally hit the treadmill for the sake of staying in shape, or are an avid runner working hard to improve your time, these tips should help you stay on track so you’re able to hit the ground running on race day. Pun intended.
EASE INTO A ROUTINE.
Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a first time 5K-er, it’s important to ease into it. Give your body time to react and adjust! Gradually increase your distance. Then, once you’ve got the distance down, you can work on increasing your speed.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
It can take your muscles time to adjust to the stress of running. Take a day or two off if you need it. It’s important to try to hit training program targets before race day, but don’t ignore warning signs and injure yourself. Recovery isn’t a break from training – it’s part of it.
SURVEY THE COURSE.
Identify twists, turns, and hills ahead of time. This will help you figure out how to pace yourself based on the terrain.
BREAK IN YOUR SHOES.
Wearing your race-day shoes a week or two before the race will give you time to break them in, helping you avoid blisters. Don’t change it up too much from your normal shoe – different shoes can cause changes your running style that can result in unexpected pain.
PREP FOR RACE DAY.
Make sure you are hydrating well for several days leading up to the race, including the night before and the morning of. A few hours before the start of the race, eat a simple, high-carb breakfast, like a bagel or oatmeal.
DON’T LET ADRENALINE TAKE OVER.
Your energy levels are bound to be high on race day, but don’t let it throw you off. Many runners get out of the gate too quickly – make sure you are sticking to your planned pace and not letting adrenaline take the lead.
STRATEGIES FOR PREVENTING AN INJURY
Now that you’ve got the tips down, what do you do to prevent or heal an injury?
In addition to helping you recover from running injuries, a physical therapist can also teach you how to safely train by advising you on proper form, training methods, strategies for preventing injury, and proper shoe selection. Seeing a physical therapist to evaluate your functional mobility and movement patterns can help you become a stronger, smarter runner that’s less prone to injury.
Starting a running regimen can often reveal inefficiencies or misalignments in the body. Improper foot alignment can cause hip pain, improper hip alignment can cause knee pain, and so on and so forth. A physical therapist can assess your gait and help you adjust your running technique, reducing your risk of injury before it occurs.
Some of the most common injuries runners experience include hip pain, knee pain, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, foot pain, and stress fractures. If you’re suffering from pain in any of these places, your physical therapist can help determine the cause of the problem and recommend effective cross training exercises to provide the healing your body needs.