Posts Tagged ‘injury prevention’

If you’re training for a spring marathon by this point you should be well into your program. This post is for the first timers that are thinking to themselves “This sounded like a great idea two months ago.”

1. Forget about your Family,Friends and Fiestas

Your job over the next few months (and it is only a few months) is to train and recover, train and recover. Some of you may have friends and family that are supportive and understand what you’re doing.

Many of you may be faced with people in your life who have never trained for an event like this and don’t understand why you just can’t “miss one run”. You have to block them out if you want to be the best runner you can be. Statements like that feed into the doubt you may already have in your mind.

If you tell someone you’re tired or sore they may answer with “Of course you are, you need to take a rest.” Do not listen to these people. Follow your training program and don’t expect anyone else to understand unless they’ve gone through this process themselves.

2. Look At The Big Picture

Your race will be here before you know it. At this point you may already be sick of your long runs or training schedule. Staying in on the weekends or being too tired to go out during the week may start to get frustrating. This is something you have to deal with.

Remember you are training for a marathon, not a 5K. You’re running 26.2 miles, something that a lot of people wish they could do. What is a few months of training out of the whole year? Right now is your time to work, it will be worth it on race day to know you are prepared.

3. Remember Your Reasons

Why did you sign up for this event? Are you running for a charity or is this one challenge you’ve always wanted to take on? Keep these things in mind when you want to bail out on one of your runs or training sessions. Make a list of your reasons and look at it every morning and every night or anytime you have trouble remembering why on earth you signed up for a marathon.

Marathon training is not suppose to be easy so don’t expect it to be. Stick with your program and believe in yourself and you can accomplish what you said you would when you signed that marathon application.

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Do you have one pair of sneakers for everything? Running,walking, strength training, ect.? Ideally you should have a separate pair of sneakers for running, here are 3 reasons why.

1. Make Them Last

When you use your running sneakers for other activities you wear them out a lot faster than if you just use them for running. Sounds simple but many people don’t think about this fact. Running sneakers can cost over $100.00. Don’t waste that money by wearing out your sneakers too early.

2. Ready To Run

When you designate one pair of shoes it helps to prepare you for your run mentally. You know every-time you lace up these sneakers you’re going to get out there for a run. Similar to a sports uniform getting you geared up for a game, a separate pair of sneakers will get your ready to hit the road.

3. Keep Track Of Your Miles

A general rule for replacing running sneakers is every 300-400 miles. This will vary depending on where you run, how you run and your body-weight. It’s much easier to keep track of your shoe mileage when you use them for running only. If you wear these sneakers all the time it’s very difficult to know how many miles you’ve logged in them.

Take care of your running shoes and save yourself the time, money and possible injury.

Pro Tip: When going out for a rainy run use an old pair of running sneakers, so you don’t ruin your new ones.

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I have been running in the Nike Frees for over a year and they are by far my favorite running sneaker.

I have logged many miles in the Nike Frees including training for and completing the 2010 Chicago Marathon. I’ve ran in a variety of running sneakers through the years including Adidas, Saucony, Asics, New Balance, Brooks and now Nikes. My search ends here with the Nike Free and here’s why.


The sole of this sneaker is very flexible. The shoe forms to your foot and allows for a natural running stride. There is minimal time to break in this sneaker because they do not start off stiff like most running shoes. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon in a pair of Brooks sneakers that were recommended to me. The shoes were heavy and I felt like I had bricks on my feet. I appreciate the flexibility that the Nike Free allows.


There is minimal cushion in the Nike Free. The less cushion you have in your sneaker the more you decrease the risk of developing an overuse injury. With minimal padding in your sneaker you learn to land softer on your feet, which lessens the impact on your ankle, knee and hip joints. I use to run very heavy on my feet, you could hear me stomping on the treadmill a mile away. Now, I’ve learned to land softer, which has been less stress on the joints in my legs. The muscles in your foot will also get stronger which enables you to support your legs more efficiently.


A good pair of running sneakers traditionally run from $100.00-$200.00. The Nike Free costs about $85.00, depending on where you shop. If you are logging a lot of mileage buying running sneakers can get expensive. There is a good price difference between these sneakers and other top running shoes.


The Nike Free comes in multiple colors and styles. There are different levels of cushioning for those runners that want to break into this style of shoe gradually. Nike currently offers the 7.0 which has the most cushion, the Free Run Plus is the next step down and the 3.0 has the least cushion of all three. Nike comes out with new colors for this shoe every few months. You can even customize your own on the Nike website.

I’ve had clients that were recommended orthotics and motion control sneakers that ended up with knee pain and were unable to run. When they tried running in the Nike Free they had no pain in their knees and were able to train for and complete a half marathon.

Over the past year I’ve recommended this shoe to many of my clients that are runners. 90% of the time the Nike Free has been the perfect fit.

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Training for a Marathon? Here are 5 common issues endurance runners come across, and simple ways to avoid them.

1. Sour Stomach

This is one of the most common issues that can happen on a long run or any run for that matter. Stomach discomfort can be prevented by paying attention to your diet. The night before a long run, eat a meal that is 40% Fat/30% Protein/30% Carbohydrate. Be sure not to eat too late at night as well. The next morning eat a breakfast with the same proportions and give yourself at least one hour to digest before you head out to run.

Quick Fix: Take a break and hit the nearest gas station. Most places are good about letting runners use their bathrooms.

2. Cramping

Runners can be prone to cramping in their stomach and/or legs. Take these three precautions to prevent cramps.

  • The day before your run drink plenty of water and limit drinks that cause dehydration (coffee, soda, alcohol).
  • Use a foam roller daily to help work out any tightness in your legs.
  • Get a massage every couple of weeks

Quick Fix: Slowly come to a stop and stretch until you feel relief in the tight area. Start back again at a slower pace and try to calm your breathing.

3. Boredom

Running the same streets every week can get tedious. Make sure you switch up your running routes so you don’t get bored. Use a running website to map out your runs such as Step out of your comfort zone and try a new path, the variety will keep you awake and engaged in your run.

Quick Fix: Take your mind somewhere else. Visualize crossing the finish line at your race or make a to-do list for your week. Some of your best ideas can come to you during a run.

4. Low Energy Level/Dizziness

Poor fueling will cause you to have a low energy level and this will effect how your run goes. Depending on the length of your run, using Gu can be very beneficial for your energy. Use one Gu packet every 40-45:00 for the most efficient results. If you wait until you’re feeling tired then it’s already too late to get the most benefits out of your Gu. Also, be sure to get enough sleep the night before your long run.

Quick Fix: Stop at the nearest convenient store and pick up something with sugar. If they don’t have Gu, grab some sport jelly beans.

5. Wardrobe Malfunction

Comfortable clothing is key when you’re hitting the streets for hours at a time. If you are uncomfortably dressed, that is bound to be a distraction. Avoid discomfort caused by clothing by trying your running outfit on a shorter run like 3-5 miles. It’s too hard to tell how your clothes will feel during a run by just trying them on in a store. Make sure you to test it out before your longer runs.

Quick Fix: If you’re stuck with multiple layers that are causing discomfort, shed something. You can always drive back and pick up the clothing item(s) you dropped.

Long runs are the time to work out these kinks that can happen on race day. If you experience one of these running issues, pay attention to what you did leading up to your long run. Learn from your mistakes and you will be much better off on the day of your event.

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I couldn’t help but think of my Physical Education students when I read the Times Article “Skip the Stretch Before Running — It Doesn’t Prevent Injuries”¹ The article states that through a recent study, static stretching before a run did not decrease your chance in injury. I spent the first 3 months of my P.E. Teaching career explaining this concept to my students, especially the older ones.

The children that I teach had been use to their routine of coming into the gym, performing static stretches, running laps and then starting the lesson plan for the day. For me to change their routine took a lot of explaining and I still believe they’re not all convinced.

I used the analogy of comparing your muscles to a rubber band. If you’ve ever seen a cold elastic band, what happens when you try to stretch it? The rubber band breaks. When you have a warm rubber band, it stretches very easily.

In my classes, I always start with a warm up, but I never have them perform static stretching at the beginning of class. My students start with a walk/light jog, followed by dynamic stretching and then some additional static stretches before we begin our lesson plan. This prevents injury and gets their muscles prepared for the sport/exercise they are about to partake in. However, at least once a month I will still have a hand raised with the question “why don’t we stretch first?”

As a runner, I agree with the Times Article for myself and for the way I work with my clients and Physical Education classes. I always start with a proper general warm up before exercise. I use static stretching at the end of a session for a cool down and in an effort to prevent any cramping or tightening of the muscles after exercise.

Here is an example of a dynamic warm up that I use with my Physical Education Class.

  • 100Ft. of Toy Soldiers; Take one step, lift the opposite leg as high as it will comfortably go and touch the knee of that leg. Repeat on opposite side
  • 100Ft. of Cherry Pickers; High skip while reaching one hand in the air
  • 100Ft. of Caterpillar; Bend at the waist and walk your hands out to a plank position. Then walk your feet into meet your hands, while keeping only a slight bend in your knees. Walk your hands back out and then your feet in again to meet your hands.
  • 100Ft. Back Shuffle; Step backwards staying on the balls of your feet. Look behind you to make sure you don’t crash into anything.

Repeat all exercises

This warm up will raise your core temperature and improve your flexibility at the same time. For an extra stretch you can perform some static stretches afterward, although it is not necessary.

¹Skip the Stretch Before Running — It Doesn’t Prevent Injuries By Alice Park Friday, February 18, 2011, Time Healthland

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Guest Post: Author Ryann Price has been an active runner and yogi for 10+ years. In 2010 she completed her teacher training certification at In Touch Yoga in Bryon Bay, Australia, where she primarily studied hatha and vinyasa yoga. Today Ryann continues her practice and love of both yoga and running, and teaches the art of strength and flexibility in Washington, DC.

If yoga is the art of creating space throughout the body with a focus on the spine, well running is the art of compressing that spine back down.  As a runner myself I’ve battled many injuries and as a yogi I’ve come to find a cure for almost all of them on my mat.  You don’t have to trust my experience alone, this list from WebMD of the top running injuries highlights that tight muscles can be the source of almost all the injuries listed (with the exception of blisters – can’t help you there!).

The key to balancing your running with yoga is knowing when to stretch, when to strengthen and what muscles to target in both cases.  Running classically tightens lower body muscles like hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, piriformis and calf muscles.  These are excellent areas to focus your stretching.  Integrating a yoga practice that focuses on these muscles into your daily life is an excellent way to ensure you stay injury free and as a bonus gain added mobility in your stride.

As a runner you know which of your lower body muscles are weaker or out of balance.  Incorporating strength building poses into your practice that work on your weaker areas is an excellent way to round out your muscle imbalances.  Core strength is always present in yoga poses even if they are not categorically “core strengtheners”, but it can also be a way to elevate your level of performance.  Specifically target the lower back, inner thigh, lower abs and oblique muscles to build up your core, which will not only increase your performance as an amateur runner but also help protect you against injury.

Now that you’re up to speed on the physical benefits yoga brings to your life as a runner, how do you start your practice?  Or for those of you already practicing how you do make your practice work harder for you as a runner?

To take on your problem areas commit to 3 daily poses.  If you take 5 minutes per pose that’s a maximum of 15 minutes per day.  A quick example, if you have tight hips, hamstrings and quads here’s a 15 minutes runners’ daily sequence:

  1. Anjaneyasana (low lunge), focus on dropping your hip to the ground and relax your glute (repeat on opposite side)
  2. Take your lunge to the wall with your back shin up the wall.  Focus on flattening your back against the wall. (repeat on opposite side)
  3. Supta padangustasana.  Here you’ll need a belt.  Take it slow because you can overstretch (aka pull) your hamstring.  Start where you can just barely feel something.  Keep your grounded leg straight and foot flexed.

Unlike running, your yoga practice does not have a destination.  It’s a journey.  Yoga is a journey.  Take it one day at a time and find a place, a teacher, a time whatever gets you motivated to jump on your mat. Do your daily sequence.  Invest in yourself and your body, you only get one.  And just like running life is a marathon, not a sprint.

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As the years have gone on I can stand the treadmill less and less. Living in New England there will be times when you literally have no other choice if you want to get a run in. Here are two work-outs to make your time on the dreadmill go by fast!

Work-out #1 Intervals

Warm Up

2:00 Walk/3:00 Easy Jog


1/2 Mile Run @ 80-90% Max Heart Rate
1/4 Mile Jog or walk @ 65-70% MHR
3 Rounds for beginners
6 Rounds for advanced

Cool Down

5:00 Walk

Work Out #2 Interval Strength Training

Warm Up

2:00 Walk/3:00 Easy Jog


1 Mile Run All Out/10x Burpee (or Push Ups for beginners)
3/4 Mile Run All Out/20x Burpee
1/2 Mile Run All Out/30x Burpee
1/4 Mile Run All Out/40x Burpee

Cool Down

5:00 Walk and stretch

By breaking up your run into short intervals your mind will stay occupied. Concentrate on your heart rate and timing. When you are done, record the times of your intervals in a journal. After a few weeks you should see an improvement in your speed.

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As a trainer my goal is to get you to your fitness goals. Along with that I want you to leave me with as much knowledge about the process that got you there as possible. Here are five things I hope every client of mine takes away from our time together.

1. You are capable of much more than you know.

Many times exercise is mind over matter. Don’t stop when something gets hard, stick with it and you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish. Never say “I can’t do (fill in the blank)”, because there is nothing you can’t do.

2. Always do push-ups from your toes.

I don’t care if it takes you three times as long to get through a set, it’s worth the work. You will progress faster if you do push ups from your toes and go down a 1/4 of the way then going all the way down from your knees. You want to support your own body weight. When you do push-ups from your knees you’re missing half the exercise, and if you do them from your knees you’ll always do them from your knees.

3. Pay Attention to Recovery.

Taking the time to do recovery work is going to keep you injury free. When you are fully recovered you can get the most out of your next work out. Make sure to stretch and foam roll after every session. If there is a particular area bothering you (knee, hip, shoulder) be sure to ice it to reduce inflammation. Lastly, eat after your work-outs to help you’re muscles rebuild and replenish the calories that you burned off.

4. Manage your time.

Find the time to work-out, even if it’s for 20:00, squeeze it in. You will feel much better than if you abandon exercising completely. If you do miss a week or two, don’t be afraid to get started again. Don’t dwell on the time you’ve missed, just be grateful that you’re getting back into it.

5. Nothing is more important than your health.

If you are sick nothing else in your life matters. Always put your health first. When you are healthy and feeling good you’re a better parent, sibling, co-worker and friend. When you put you’re work-out aside you’re not helping anyone, especially not yourself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first when it comes to exercise and meal-planning.

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Last weekend two of my clients and I ran The Chicago Marathon. This was my third marathon and their first. My clients had been training for this event since January. They first built up to running in Boston’s Run To Remember Half Marathon last May. From there they continued to build on their training base  for The Chicago Marathon in October.

We all successfully completed The 26.2 mile race and made an interesting observation afterward. There seemed to be many runners hobbling around the next day, while the three of us spent 6 hours happily touring the city on foot. The reason we felt so great afterward was because we trained properly. Here are a few reasons to take marathon preparation seriously.

  • Be Kind To Your Body. Marathon training takes work and it is worth it to get through the race injury free. While training for my first marathon, I didn’t pay enough attention to recovery and I spent too much time in the gym. I ended up suffering through the second half of the race and nursing runner’s knee for a month afterward. After doing some research and enlisting help from a more experienced coach(a big Thank You to Rob MacDonald from Gym Jones). I trained for and successfully completed my second marathon pain free and with an hour shaved off of my first marathon time.
  • No Stress, No Mess. The more you train the more confident you will be on race day. Mental stress can really take a toll on your body. You don’t want to start your race with an upset stomach or a panic attack. It is normal to be nervous the day of the marathon, and if you take the time to prepare it will cut that stress in half.
  • Enjoy The Day. Marathon day is very enjoyable when you are properly trained. You can take in the scenery and enjoy the crowd while your cruising your 26.2 mile tour of the city. When you cross that finish line it means much more knowing you have put in a lot of time and effort in preparation for your moment.

    Jenn, Myself and Heather on race day

Whether you are training for a 5K or an Ultra-Marathon, spend the time and build up to your event. You don’t want to be the one limping around town the next day.

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