Training for a Marathon? Here Are Six Tips to Enhance Training.

By: Julie Randall, PT

Marathon Running


1. Don’t Just Run

Incorporating a strengthening routine into your race training can improve your race result. A strengthening routine can reduce injury risk, improve running endurance, and improve speed. In fact, according to an article on the Runner’s World website, “of more interest to runners looking for lower PRs [personal records], however, is the fact that they identified a 2.9 percent improvement in 3K/5K performances” in those who strength trained. “That’s like going from a 13:30 5K to a 13:06.5.”1 


2. Don’t Train through Pain

Know when to stop if an injury creeps up; don’t train through pain. Get it checked out early so that you can get back into running sooner and to prevent a minor injury from turning into a major one that could keep you sidelined for a long time.


Many physical therapists complete running assessments. A running assessment can provide useful information on areas of weakness that you can work on to reduce injury risk. And, as of January 2015, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have Direct Access to Physical Therapy. This allows you to see a physical therapist first without having to wait to see your doctor to get a referral or prescription. So there’s no need to wait! If you have an injury, get it checked out to stay healthier on the run.2 


3. Use Proper Footwear

Most local running stores provide a shoe-fitting service. Getting the proper footwear can make a big difference not only in your comfort level while running but also in assisting with injury prevention.


4. Conserve Your Energy

Don’t go out too fast in the first and second miles, as you will need to conserve your energy to complete the race successfully. Be aware of your pace, and avoid that initial rush in the beginning. It will be worth it in the end!


5. Try Dynamic Stretching before You Run

Running is a dynamic activity, so avoid static (long-hold) stretching prior to running. Static stretching may actually turn your muscles off rather than loosening them up. Learn how to dynamically stretch your hamstrings, quads, and calves to get your blood flowing and your muscles stretched out and turned on to run a great race.3


6. Improve the Endurance of Your Butt Muscles

Endurance is very important for marathon runners, and one of the most neglected muscles to be trained is the gluteus medius muscle (one of the butt muscles). If your gluteus medius is not trained for endurance, then it fatigues, putting more stress on your hips, knees, and feet. You may experience pain when your gluteus medius fatigues, and you may have to slow down your pace, which will affect your final results. Physical therapists are very good at teaching gluteus medius exercises to strengthen the muscles and maximize your performance.4




1. Mackenzie Lobby, “How Strength Training Benefits Runners,” Runner’s World, January 14, 2011, (accessed April 27, 2016).

2. Henning PT, “The Running Athlete: Stress Fractures, Osteitis Pubis, and Snapping Hips,” Sports Health 6, no. 2 (March 2014): 122–27.

3. Mackenzie Lobby, “Dynamic Stretching Better before Training and Racing,” Runner’s World, April 6, 2010, (Accessed April 27, 2016).

4. Tom Groom, “Gluteus Medius – Evidence Based Rehab,” Running Physio, May 8, 2012, (accessed April 27, 2016).



The Danger of Pitching: Dan Winkler of the Atlanta Braves Experiences a Devastating Injury

Did you see what happened to Atlanta Braves pitcher Dan Winkler this past weekend? If not, the video is hard to watch. He throws a pitch and immediately exits the mound in terrible pain. The diagnosis was a fracture of his elbow. This injury is something that will likely keep him out for the season, and it could potentially end his career. 


The throwing motion is one of the fastest movements the human body can do. There is literature that shows the angular velocity at the elbow to be greater than 3,000 degrees per second during a single baseball pitch. That is the equivalent to rotating your arm around 360 degrees 20 times in one second! Now imagine doing that for multiple pitches per game and for multiple games per season. With this in mind, it is no wonder why so many pitchers sustain injury and have Tommy John surgery (or ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction), which Winkler had previously undergone. 


During the reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament, which is a triangular ligament on the inside of the elbow, the surgeon drills bone tunnels into the arm so that the ligament can be “tied” in tight. With this surgery, there is always the possibility of weakening the area, even in perfect conditions with the perfect surgery. Still, at the late cocking position of the throwing motion, the force at the elbow is the equivalent of holding a 40-pound weight in your hand. Now imagine the repetitive stresses again. It’s not uncommon for players to experience a subsequent injury even after they’ve fully healed and returned to their sport after Tommy John surgery.1


This is an unfortunate set of circumstances for a young pitcher who has already gone through so much in his short career. Winkler will be facing months if not years of rehabilitation if he is going to battle back again. I wish him the best. And maybe he can seek some guidance from Baldwinsville, NY, native Jason Grilli who is currently on the Braves pitching staff. Jason has rehabbed from multiple complicated surgeries, most recently an Achilles tendon repair, but also the aforementioned Tommy John surgery.


One thing is certain, there is quite a large number of pitchers getting injured, and it is up to the baseball community to work together to figure out why and to work toward prevention.



  1. “Tommy John FAQ.”, (accessed April 12, 2016).