The BMW Dallas Marathon is the oldest marathon in Texas, but don’t take that prestigious honor to mean that it’s only for elites.
One of the main purposes of a marathon is to provide a challenge for people to strive toward. Some may train to be the champion, but many train just to finish the race—and both goals are highly celebrated!
Simply getting your body into a shape that’s capable of finishing a marathon is impressive. You can’t just walk the whole way; there’s a time limit of 6.5 hours before they just close down and start traffic up again, so you have to be able to maintain a certain average pace (14:50 per mile, in this case) for an extended time.
Working yourself up to such a state takes commitment, planning, and—perhaps most importantly—time. One of the worst things that can happen after making a commitment to running a marathon is suffering a sports injury that severely risks or outright eliminates your chance of participation! That’s not just painful in a physical sense, but in an emotional one, too.
Your feet and ankles are some of the hardest-working parts of your body during a marathon. Treating yourself properly as you train is essential to keeping them healthy and ready to go.
If you are working your way up to marathon pace, here are some tips from Richardson Podiatry for staying on the path.
Know Your Current Level
If you set out your first week of training with the goal of running 26 miles, you will end up disappointed and/or hurt, guaranteed.
Our bodies are conditioned to perform at a certain level, and we raise that level gradually through gentle, calculated pushing of our limits. If you aim for too much intensity or too much time than your body can currently handle, you are at much higher risk for overuse injuries such as stress fractures or Achilles tendinitis.
There are many plans out there to train for a marathon, but they’re only going to work if they are right for your current level. Consult with a trainer or your primary care physician for guidance on what kind of plan is best suited to your needs.
And once you start, keep a training log of distance, times, and how you feel after every run. This can help you chart your progress and tweak your program (and never be afraid to tweak down if necessary).
Stretch Dynamically Before You Run
Stretching is always recommended before engaging in any heightened physical activity. A lot of people know this, but many don’t take the “dynamic” part into play.
It’s not good to just stand in one spot and stretch. Research shows that you need to be moving more during your warmups. A few minutes of light jogging in addition to some stretches is great. For the feet and ankles, we recommend stretching with heel raises, kneeling toe stretches, and walking lunges for the feet and ankles, but you may benefit from other specific stretches in your case. We can help you determine which ones!
NEVER Leave Out Recovery Days
You’re pushing yourself at a challenging yet comfortable pace, and things are feeling good. So why not just lock this in every day for best results, right?
No. Never. Do not do this.
When we push our bodies, we are essentially breaking down muscle, bone, and other tissues from the strain. They rebuild to become stronger and more capable of handling higher demands. That’s how we improve our bodies!
However, our bodies need time to do this. If you do not have days dedicated to recovery, and instead keep hammering on the same areas day after day, you will literally break yourself down to the point of injuring yourself. If you feel a reduction in your performance and a persistent fatigue, you are very likely not including enough rest days.
A good general rule is to give yourself an easier day (or cross-train) after a hard day, and to take at least one day fully off per week (though two is often recommended). Your mileage may vary, so listen to your body.
Have the Right Gear
You must have running shoes for a marathon, and they must be in good shape. Your standard gym sneakers are not going to cut it.
A running shoe is not only made specifically for better absorbing the repetitive impacts of running, but different varieties can aid runners who have abnormal gaits, such as overpronation (the foot rotating too far inward when moving).
A trained running or sporting goods store associate can take a look at the wear of your current shoes and the way you walk to set you up with an ideal pair of running shoes. Sometimes, though, you may need some additional support and correction. Custom orthotics provided by our office may be an excellent option in this case.
Get the Jump on Potential Problems by Coming to See Us!
If you are serious about Dallas Marathon running, it can very much be to your benefit to schedule an appointment with us at Richardson Podiatry. You don’t even have to have any foot or ankle concerns at the time (although you should especially come see us if you do!).
While direct care for an existing problem is something we will always be more than happy to provide, the most rewarding experience we can offer our patients is preventing problems from developing in the first place. We can examine your gait, your foot and ankle history, and even potential problems in your family tree, then recommend the best exercises, lifestyle changes, and treatments to greatly lower your risk of injury.
Call us at (972) 690-5374 to schedule an appointment, or fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.