The road ahead is long, especially if you're just starting your marathon training. Sports medicine expert Dr. Kristi Kern says the key to distance running success is setting a goal and hitting the trail.
"Make sure it's realistic and that you're not overwhelmed with the schedule. It's good to start off small at first. At the same time, you shouldn't rule anything out," she says.
Get advice from the pros, Kristi says. Trained runners at stores like Gazelle Sports or Eastown Striders can give new runners advice on equipment and pace. Athletic stores sometimes have running groups set up already, and Kristi says its a good idea to join.
"You can always find someone at your own pace," she says.
If you can't find a group get one together yourself, like Kristi did when she started running. Friends helped her to stay motivated while she trained for a marathon in 2004.
Early on, training motivation is high, but Kristi stresses the need to take things slow. At her Metro Health office, Kristi works with women of all ages, and she has seen side effects from overexerted bodies. Increase the distance of each run by 10 percent each week, she says Rapidly increasing the pace of the run is another way to injure the body. To avoid burn out or running injuries, Kristi says to cross train.
"We like cross training a lot. If you're running three to four days a week, work in cross training like biking, swimming, weights, and core training. These things can help running muscles recover but still keep up cardio activity," she says.
Stress injuries experienced by runners include everything from shin splints to fractures. This occurs when bone growth cannot keep up with the body. Footwear, the distance of the run, and nutrition are all factors that can help, or hurt, the bones. Shoes should be changed every three hundred to five hundred miles, or every six months. Watch for shoe materials starting to break down, and make note of the side of the road on which you are running. If there is a gradual slope, Kristi says, one shoe will get more worn out than the other.
Keeping up the body's energy while running is essential, especially on long runs. Replenish the body's liquids by drinking at least six ounces every twenty minutes. To maintain energy levels, eat (or drink) one hundred calories worth of carbs every thirty minutes, Kristi says.
If the body is sore after a run, an ice bath can help inflammation of the joints and tendons. A cool down and stretching are also good for the muscles after a run. Kristi says stretching before a run or any kind of exercise is not necessarily good for the body. Stretching muscles before they are warmed up can hurt more than help. Instead, warm up by jogging first before you launch into your 10K.
Written by: Erika Fifelski was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, sewing, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses. Photo: Karl Zobel