By: Julie Randall, PT
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, http://www.runnersworld.com/rt-web-exclusive/how-strength-training-benefits-runners (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, http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/dynamic-stretching-better-before-training-and-racing# (Accessed April 27, 2016).
4. Tom Groom, “Gluteus Medius – Evidence Based Rehab,” Running Physio, May 8, 2012, http://www.running-physio.com/glutemed/ (accessed April 27, 2016).