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Resolution to Run? We’ll Help You Prepare!

Believe it or not, New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner, and if one of yours is running a marathon, there’s something you need to think about. Yes, the finish line. But before that—training. Whatever your reason for taking on this rewarding feat, follow these tips so you don’t become one of the countless, injured many who waited too long to prepare, or figured they could just pick up running where they last left off.


Too often forgotten or bypassed, stretching is vital to injury prevention. Before a run, stretch dynamically. Unlike static stretching (touching your toes and holding it for several seconds, for example) dynamic, moving stretches better prep you for activity. Some simple ones: Leg swings front to back, and forward lunges. After your run, do static stretches to prevent tightness.


Don’t jump right in and run three miles on your first attempt. Instead, increase your weekly mileage by no more than ten percent. And keep in mind that three to five runs a week is plenty. As you approach race day, you should be logging 50 miles a week, on average.


Every seven to ten days, do a long run. That means if you’re averaging two miles a run, take one three-mile jaunt that week. Your long run should increase by a mile each week. Also, remember that most runners don’t run the full race distance prior to race day. For a marathon, a 20-mile long run will suffice. Your body should adjust and finish on race day.


Speedwork is a great way to build endurance and aerobic capacity. It’s essentially interval training, or periods of slower running mixed with periods of faster running, all over a shorter distance.


Your muscles and other tissues need time to regenerate and reset. If you must do something on a rest day, try swimming or another form of cross-training. Also, don’t forget to fuel your body properly: Just because you’re burning more calories doesn’t mean you should eat a pint of ice cream each night.

Katie Spengler, Physical Therapy Assistant, is an avid runner and part of Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Sports Medicine Clinic. If you suffer an injury and need medical attention, schedule an appointment at 610-378-2255


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