TRAINING FOR MARATHONS

ORS co-owner and COO - Kevin Barclay

ORS co-owner and COO - Kevin Barclay

Getting Started - Part 1
By Kevin D Barclay PT, SCS, ATC, CSCS
COO - Co-Owner of Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.
 
Twenty four years ago I ran my first marathon. I am now registered to run my first Boston Marathon.  It has been an on and off again process but my knowledge and experience has grown over the years regarding  marathon  training.  I felt my most recent marathon experience was my best and I am looking forward to my upcoming training for Boston.  I believe the most significant step to take in your marathon process, whether a first timer or Boston regular, is getting yourself prepared and setting a goal before getting started with training. Here are some tips:
1)      Get medical clearance.  If there is any question whether you are healthy enough to start months and months of training contact your physician and get a physical.
2)      Is this a good time? You need to make sure you have the time to train consistently once you begin.  If a long vacation, travel or personal schedule will greatly limit your time or flexibility to train your results may fall short of what you desire.
3)      Pick a marathon before you train.   You will be more motivated to train when you are working  toward a specific goal rather than getting in shape to do one “someday”.  Pick one that gets you pumped. ( Location  ( convenience vs travel), scenery/course layout, proximity to attractions or  family are things to consider.)
4)      Follow  a program- This is up to you but I would highly recommend following a program that provides workouts for you and has proven success.  It helps with consistency when you know exactly what you are supposed to do on a certain training day and don’t  decide that day what you actually feel like doing..
5)      Get an “accountability partner”-  Having someone who supports and encourages you through your training will help keep you motivated.  Knowing you will be asked regularly how training is going helps you workout when you feel fatigued or unmotivated as well.
 
Enjoy the process and get started!
 

Training - Part 2
By Kevin D Barclay PT, SCS, ATC, CSCS
COO- Co-Owner of Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.

So you have made the decision and are ready to start training for your next (or first) marathon.
Something to remember as you begin…

Do not diet. Unless you are following a specific diet from your doctor you should find this a great time to be less concerned about the quantity and what types of food you should eat.  You will be burning lots of calories in your training and you will need to both replace what you have burned, for recovery and repair, and “re-load” for your next workout.  Although you should still make good choices, things like breads, potatoes and pasta – forbidden to the starch and carb conscious – should be staples during your training.

Keep your feet protected. Heel and arch pain, blisters and tendonitis can derail your training quickly. Make sure your shoes are in good shape.  Depending on your weight, running surfaces and mileage you should be changing your shoes every 300-500 miles. (I think 500 is pushing it ).  Make sure your new pair of shoes are comfortable when you first buy them. The idea that your shoes will “loosen up” after you wear them a while is outdated and wrong. Put a lubricant between your toes and behind your heel, especially for longer runs, to avoid blisters.  When you bathe/shower after a workout clean between your toes thoroughly and powder your feet to absorb extra moisture that can cause chaffing or fungus. You will be a happy runner if your feet are happy!

S#!@.  Somehow over the years “stretch” has become a four letter  word. Few people take time to stretch because it takes away from their lunch time workout or it is simply too boring. Repetitive stress (In this case, running) can lead to overuse of some areas and restrictions in others.  Tightness leads to friction or tension which leads to pain and inflammation. You should make flexibility training a regular part of your regimen.  Take 2-3 days a week and spend 10-15 minutes to stretch out your hips and legs.

Spread out your mileage.  Too many runners sneak in what they can during the week and then do 50% or more of the week’s mileage on weekends.  Although this seems like the most convenient,  it can also be a recipe for breakdown. Slowly increase your weekly mileage and try to put in a nice medium distance run in the M-F routine. Rather than making weekend runs a lot longer, make them more quality.  That is,  instead of bumping your long run from 12 to 15 to 18 to 20 on successive weekends train between 14-16 for awhile but work on increasing your pace in that distance. Train smart and make it fun!

Injuries - Part 3
By: Kevin Barclay PT,SCS, ATC,CSCS
CFO- Co-Owner of Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.

It would not be surprising to get an ache, pain or soreness after weeks and months of marathon training. The important thing  is to take care of these problems before they become actual injuries.  I often tell my athletes that it is OK to participate with soreness or even mild pain, but if you need to change your normal pattern of movement to accomplish a task, you’re injured.  The key to taking care of injuries is actually preventing them (proper shoes, proper training, early treatment, proper diet, etc..).  However, if you find yourself injured, there are a few important things to consider to avoid an abrupt end to your training.
1)      Acknowledge  it: Aches and pains should be addressed immediately through ice, active rest and medication ( as your MD dictates).  Ignoring problems, hoping they will go away and “working through” the pain are not very effective ways of treating yourself. The ‘no pain no gain’ mentality is a great way to turn an annoyance into an injury.
2)      Cross train: If you are experiencing pain with running do not be afraid to train alternative ways.  Although running would  be preferred  for a marathoner, many programs also support utilizing bikes, ellipticals, swimming and strength training as part of their program.  Even if running is your sole source of training it makes sense to continue exercising the muscles and systems you will need for the marathon, even if you can’t run.  Keeping yourself in shape while maintaining  physical health should be your main goal.
3)      Seek assistance: If proper training, home treatments and alternative exercises are not helping you need to seek assistance by a trained professional.  At ORS we can assist in the assessment and treatment needs of your injury.  If further  medical treatments or assessments are indicated we will refer you to the proper medical professional.  Many times we can help with your injuries while you still are training.  Our Alter G and underwater treadmills allow running while minimizing the load placed on your back and lower body.  We also have alternate treatments such as Graston Technique and Wellwave  that assist with healing of chronic  injuries.  An evaluation by our performance coaches could help find weakness and restriction that could be contributing to your problems.
4)      Medical assessment: Getting medical evaluation and proper diagnostic testing could be the thing that keeps your shin splints from becoming stress fractures and tendonitis from becoming tears. Significant pain, inability to run and loss of normal function should receive proper medical evaluation.
5)      Set new goals: It is better to reset your goals for your marathon than to try and work through problems that will lead to you missing it all together.   Completing a marathon is an awesome accomplishment, regardless of time.  However, it is better to miss your marathon all together  than to cause injury that may permanently alter your running career.
Run smart and healthy and enjoy your training!

Race Time- Part 4
Kevin D. Barclay PT, SCS, ATC, CSCS
COO- Co-owner of Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.
 
Well, the Boston Marathon is just six weeks away. Looking back on my previous training tips I noticed how much of my own advice I have needed to take to stay on track.  I suffered a calf injury that made it impossible  to run normally for almost three weeks. I was able to use our Alter G® treadmill, cross train, and get treated with the Graston® technique to keep me going until I was healthy.  My training is back on track and I am beginning to prepare for my trip to Boston.

There are some important things to remember whenever you head into your Race Weekend:

  • Eat well:  If a marathon runner is taking in proper fuel for the race it is not uncommon for that athlete to gain 2-3 pounds the week prior to the marathon.  This is a combination of decreased intensity of exercises as well as “carbo loading”. Of course these added pounds should be quality foods for energy including whole grain breads/cereals, potatoes and pastas. The diet should continue to include plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein. The day before the race make sure you are eating fairly bland foods to avoid stomach upset and avoid too many “emptying” foods like high fiber foods and roughage.

  • Hydrate: Part of your potential weight gain should be due to hydrating properly. Drink plenty of water and make sure you include drinking  the replacement fluid that will be offered during the marathon. You want to avoid your body being “surprised” by what you put in it on race day.  Sip on a water bottle constantly the day before the race. Minimize or eliminate drinking alcohol leading up to the race. It will accelerate dehydration.

  • Rest:  You will probably not sleep well, or very long,  the night before the marathon so make sure that two nights before the race you sleep (or at least stay in bed) as long as you can.  Go get your number, bag, shirt, etc. provided from the registration tent/expo and then go back to where you are staying and rest.  If the race offers a big expo with vendors, clothing, and demonstrations try and attend two days before the marathon and use the day before to lie around, stretch and prepare for the race.  Standing/walking  all day long to participate in  the “marathon experience” could make your legs a bit overly tired when you are actually “experiencing the marathon”!

  • Prepare:  The night before the marathon lay out all your clothes and shoes, make sure you have your number and attach it to your clothes.  Pack your bag you will be taking with lubricants, band aids, extra water, fuel packets/food, extra shoe laces and put it by the door.  When I am in a hotel I set the clock, set my phone AND ask for a wake up call.  Make sure you have multiple ways to get up on time.  Make sure you eat something before bed and have something ready to eat when you wake up.  Your body will use much of your stores, if you don’t eat much after dinner, the night before the race.  Do not eat a heavy meal closer then 2 hours before race time. Drink plenty of fluids up to 20-30 minutes before the race.

  • Racing:  Get to your start early enough to stretch, warm-up, and get mentally prepared.  Stressing out and rushing because you are cutting it too close will get your heart pumping and adrenaline racing much too early. Wear warm up clothes you can “throw away” just before start.  Many marathons take clothes left purposely behind and donate then to charity. Take advantage of the water and fuel stops early.  If you wait until you feel hungry or thirsty your body may already be too low on fuel to recover.  Once again you should have been using the fuel gels offered during the marathon while you were training to avoid unnecessary stomach issues.  Do not change your pace or goals for the marathon on race day. You may be excited and feel good early, but it is a long race.  You have trained for months to reach your goal, aim for that. You can always modify your goal for next marathon. 

Enjoy your race whether it be this month or one for which you have yet to start training.  Feel free to contact me with questions, frustrations, concerns and/or little victories along the way.  Enjoy the process as well as the race!

FOR OTHER TRAINING TIPS CONTACT US:
ORS FOOT, ANKLE & RUNNING CENTER-
2797 Spring Arbor Rd, Ste. B, Jackson, MI 49203
Phone: 517-962-4437