Running a marathon is an exciting endeavor, especially if it’s your first time. After all, there are numerous benefits of participating in a running race. For starters, it improves your overall health by increasing your heart rate and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels. And the longer you run, the better your body is able to strengthen your body’s fast-twitch fibers, which help build strength and fight fatigue. Some research suggests that it also decreases stress and boosts your mental power.
But many runners—from first-time runners to marathon enthusiasts—choose to run for a cause. There are many charity races around the world that allow you to contribute to making a difference. Whether you’re running for cancer, clean water, or children without parents, it’s clear that you can get fit while participating in an event that has the power to change lives.
But with all the benefits of running—particularly when you’re running for a cause—your participation can be equally as nerve-wracking if you struggle with managing onset or chronic pain from running. Pain can interfere with your ability to perform properly, and can complicate chronic pain complications.
Runners have a particular set of common injuries. For instance, according to a study conducted by the University of Calgary, “runner’s knee” accounts for 57% of knee problems in Canadian runners. In this case, you might experience twinges in your knee when you run, and that tension might flare up later on during prolonged sitting periods. Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints are other common runner’s injuries. Here are some ways you can manage and combat runner’s pain:
Choose the Right Shoe Technology
Whenever you embark on a running mission, the right equipment can make or break your success. You wouldn’t climb a mountain in sandals. Even cheap hiking boots wouldn’t be of service. Finding the right shoes is impertinent; you need lightweight shoes that offer great support.
As you browse through the myriad of options, be sure to pick shoes designed specifically for running; although they may look like other sneakers, running shoes utilize design technology that support in repetitive motion, aid in shock absorption, help prevent injury, and allow you to move with greater ease. In fact, you might even consider purchasing two pairs of shoes to create variation in how you land on your feet and ease the load on your knees.
Keep in mind that your feet tend to spread when you walk or run, so you’ll need a bit of wiggle room without leaving a big gap. Quality running shoes also tend to run higher in price, and you get what you pay for. Higher-priced shoes will last longer, are equipped with better features, and will keep your feet comfortable throughout your marathon.
Manage Pain Accurately
As a runner, you’ll undoubtedly be met with pain at some point in time. Although running is one of the best ways to maintain your overall health and stay in shape, it can also be an easy way to incur minor injuries that may be compounded over time without proper care. There are three main types of pains you can incur: chronic, overuse, and acute.
Common injuries for runners are mostly chronic and overuse-related, included. delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), ankle sprains, hamstring tears, muscle sprain, and overtraining syndrome are common injuries among runners, and particularly novice runners.
Acute pain isn’t uncommon, however. A runner’s accident can result in serious pain, like a split knee that needs stitching. Fortunately, new technology also offers a more progressive approach to wound care and pain management. For example, a digital wound measurement tool allows clinicians to quickly measure wounds and easily visualize bacteria at the point of care, resulting in quick and efficient treatment.
Coordinate Your Marathon Accessories
Running a marathon takes a while, and you’ll need the right gear and accessories to keep you going throughout your race. For instance, rather than bring a backpack, opt for a reliable fanny pack to store your goods. A backpack will be difficult to check in and out of marathons and typically involves lengthy waiting times and more walking after a victory. Lightweight hydration packs, running armband for phone, wireless headphones, fitness tracking device, and blister plasters are all great day-of accessories to come equipped with.
Decide on the Right Race
There are ample marathons to choose from. Think about the size and location. If you prefer to stay low-key for your first race, the Boston Marathon or TCH New York City marathon may not be for you. However, if you enjoy the crowds and inspiration, these larger marathons might do the trick. You also want to think about the weather and terrain of the marathon. You can find appropriate course maps with elevation charts on marathon websites.
As a new runner, you may want to test your fitness by opting for a half marathon first. This will prevent you from overstraining yourself. A standard marathon is about 26 miles, while a half marathon is roughly 13 miles. Running a half marathon about a month ahead of your full marathon allows you to learn first-hand what to expect from a marathon. It also offers a much-needed boost of inspiration. Afterwards, you’ll have ample time to rest as you prepare for your full marathon of choice.
Practice Your Diet
Good exercise isn’t the only thing you’ll need for a successful race. You’ll also need a balanced diet. During your marathon training, emphasize protein, plenty of water, good fat sources (avocado, legumes), and balance fruits and veggies. Keep in mind that as you train, you’re burning more calories than usual, and you need to replace them with nutrient-rich food and healthy carbs. For your marathon, you can pack healthy protein and energy bars, Gatorade chews, or packaged pickles for easy access.
Training for Your Marathon
Create a training schedule and stick to it. Because some of your training sessions might last for a couple hours, having this on your calendar weeks ahead of time helps you prioritize and plan around it. If it’s possible, try to train by running along similar topography as your marathon. For example, if you live in New York City and plan on running in the New York City marathon (the largest in the world), then you might practice running along that exact route.