For those who’ve been around the Booty Loop more times than they can count and yearn for something more, the Charlotte Marathon is right around the corner!
Our city’s hilly terrain gives the event a reputation—deserved or not—as a fairly challenging race as far as marathons go. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be conquered by runners of all speeds and skill levels, provided you train properly and take care of your feet!
And hey, the routes for both the marathon and half marathon get within two blocks of our Myers Park office, so if your feet starting to hurt at the corner of S Kings Dr and Morehead …
(Just kidding. We know you can make it! Also, we’re closed on Saturdays.)
The excitement of the upcoming race, of course, does have us thinking about all the runners that will be out on the course—and all the work and training they’re putting in beforehand—and wishing them health and safety!
Whether you’re planning to join them (online registration is still open through October 28!) or prefer to run recreationally on your own terms, it’s important to consider the challenges your feet face from running, and take steps to prevent injuries.
Consider the following your quick guide to doing just that.
Dress for Success
The foundation of running injury prevention starts with a good pair of running shoes. Not “gym” shoes. Not generic “athletic” shoes. Running shoes.
We’ve talked about this before in our blogs, but it’s worth repeating. You don’t have to spend a small fortune on your shoes, but you do need a pair that fits great, feels great, and matches your running style.
In other words, the shape of your feet and the pronation style that you run in make a difference. A runner with a high-arched foot needs different things from his or her shoes than a runner with flat arches. Same goes for those who underpronate, overpronate, or severely overpronate.
What you’re running on makes a difference, too. Marathoners (and those who primary run in urban and suburban environments) can generally expect flat and clear (albeit hard) terrain, so standard running shoes are generally designed to be as light as possible. But trail runners need slightly heavier, tougher, wider shoes with thicker treads to deal with rugged surfaces and obstacles like sticks and stones.
If you’re not totally sure what to buy yet, no worries! You do have a couple of options here.
Number one, you can stop by and see us! We love working with runners and athletes of all kinds. Bring your running shoes with you, too.
We can properly assess your foot structure, gait mechanics (pronation, heel strike, etc.), and other components of your running form—then make recommendations for shoe types, or even preventative treatment options such as custom orthotics.
(This service is especially valuable for those who have a history of foot pain or running-related injuries.)
If you have a more neutral or normal running gait and haven’t had much trouble with foot pain in the past, you can go to a running shoe specialty store (Charlotte has plenty of them) and ask the staff for recommendations. Although they aren’t medical professionals, they do see a lot of runners and can usually offer solid advice.
Take Your Time
There’s always a temptation for runners to want to do too much, too soon—especially if they’ve been putting off their event training until the last minute.
However, the human body needs time to adjust to higher levels of aerobic activity, as well as different kinds of movements.
Almost any reasonably healthy individual can make the journey from “couch surfer” to “long distance hero” given enough time and dedication. But if you try to cut corners and make the journey too quickly, you’re going to hurt yourself.
So, start slow—especially if you’re a brand-new runner. Even if that means you’re alternating between brisk walking and jogging at first—and doing more of the former than the latter—that’s totally okay! A good rule of thumb is that you should never feel so winded that you can’t carry on a conversation at a normal volume.
Once you’ve found your level, increase your intensity gradually, in a stepwise manner. Whatever mileage you put in the previous week, increase it by only about 10 percent (at most) the following week. This helps you build endurance and increase your speed while, ideally, not overtaking your body past the breaking point along the way.
Do Other Things BESIDES Running
Cross training is a hardcore runner’s best friend.
See, the truth is that while running can be very good for you, it’s also extremely hard on the feet and joints. That’s why you need good shoes. That’s why you need to increase intensity slowly. That’s why you need to take a lot of rest days.
To help you keep up your fitness (not to mention keep you mentally engaged), it’s important to incorporate non-running (and especially low impact) workouts and exercises into your training.
This should include:
- Daily stretching. Flexibility is important for a runner—and not just for speed and performance. Staying limber helps prevent injuries like sprains and strains. Do it near the start of your workout, just after your warmup.
- Strength training. Sure, you probably don’t think of elite runners as particularly muscular athletes. But strength training that focuses on all muscle groups (including the upper body) is still critical for runners. Stronger muscles won’t get fatigued as quickly and can better support and stabilize at-risk joints.
- Low-impact exercise. Pick at least one low-impact alternative to running for aerobic exercise so you can maintain cardiovascular fitness without the excessive impact forces of running every day.
- For most runners—those that are reasonably experienced but not elite competitors—running about 3-4 days per week is the sweet spot. You’re running often enough to push yourself and really build your strength and fitness, but still get plenty of rest days to recover (and live your normal life.) If you’re a total rookie, even 1-2 days per week is fine to start with. Running 5+ days really ought to be only for the advanced and elite as it comes with higher injury risk.
Listen to Your Body
No one said running was going to be easy. There will be days where it pushes you, challenges you, wears you out.
But one thing running should never be is painful.
If you try to ignore the pain and push through injuries, you will only make things worse for yourself, in both the short term and the long term. Injuries will become more serious, more chronic, and harder to treat.
We know it can be difficult, but being able to stop yourself and seek help when you suffer an injury will ultimately mean you’ll spend less time waylaid by pain and more time on your feet, getting healthy exercise and strive toward a new PR.
And when you want to keep your recovery time at the absolute minimum, remember Carmel Foot Specialists. We offer high tech, accelerated treatments that you won’t find from a typical foot doctor, including laser therapy, acoustic wave therapy, and more.
Nothing makes us happier than helping an ailing athlete get back in shape rapidly, so they don’t have to miss the marathon they’ve been working toward for months—if not their entire lives.
To set up your appointment, give us a call today. We have two convenient offices to serve you.
- Myers Park: (704) 334-8682
- South Charlotte: (704) 542-8253