Welcome to the #LifeCantWait Blog, SPEAR Physical Therapy’s official stream for fitness tips, exercise advice, and healthy lifestyle inspiration. Our articles and features are written by our physical therapists and staff members with your progress in mind. Designed to educate and motivate, SPEAR’s #LifeCantWait Blog exists to share your stories and help you get back to life! Disclaimer
Autumn is usually the time when runners start training for the marathon. Training is an arduous process, requiring participants to be in optimal shape to complete their miles. With the unexpected arrival of the pandemic, typical course for athletic competitions has been altered. Big athletic events, such as the New York City Marathon, have been postponed or delayed until further notice to comply with social distancing regulations. Additionally, many people are finding themselves with more pain and aches in the body than ever before, considering we spend so much time at home now and less time moving about. All of these changes may be discouraging to some runners, but fear not: you can still continue training and getting in those miles!
Plan your course and prepare aide stations in advance.
Cristina suggests mapping out your course and leaving supplies like water bottles, energy chews, Vaseline and masks at different points. She also states that most sportswear companies make masks that are less constrictive, more breathable and that can stand up to the condensation from heavy breathing.
Listen to your body in order to drive your training program.
Aches and pains are bound to happen, especially if you’re jumping back into a running cadence. Cristina recommends paying attention to what your body is trying to tell you. She states runner’s bodies tend to break down two to four weeks before race day. Typical overuse aches and injuries can include shin splints, patellofemoral pain (also known as runner’s knee) and Achilles and hip flexor tendinitis.
Cristina Martello, PT, DPT, conducts a running analysis on a patient.
Don’t neglect cross training due to limited “gym” access.
Cristina suggests combining short runs with dynamic warm-up exercises, such as monster walks and walking knee hugs, to help keep the muscles fluid. Cristina states: “the biggest mistake people make is thinking as long as they get their long runs in they’ll be able to get through 26 miles. Half the battle is doing shorter runs and cross-training.”
Focus on recovery days with mobility and flexibility to prevent injury.
Cristina believes the best way to prevent aches and injuries from sneaking up on you is to put a lot of stress on recovery days. She recommends these recovery days include icing, self-massage, like foam rolling, and mobility work and stretching. And of course, if you’re feeling pain, she recommends taking a full day off.
Keep a positive mindset and enjoy your race day.
As the saying goes—when the going gets tough, the tough get going! Keep a smile on your face, push forward and believe you can accomplish anything. Most of all—have fun with it!
To learn more about how a running analysis can help you, check out our specialty here, or watch our video below as we walk you through the entire process!
Jamie Kinkler, PT, DPT, leads you through a routine highlighting Strength and Stability for Runners, featuring squats, lunge variations, and core/glute work. Bring some light weights or resistance bands if you have them on hand!
Watch The Video Below:
Make sure to join us every week for #MovementMonday, where we’ll post a live workout right on our Instagram page!
Missed a workout? Visit our Youtube channel for more exercises, workouts, and advice from your expert PTs and OTs!
Running in the wintertime can be a tricky business when weather conditions aren’t in your favor. These four tips will help you safely make the most of your run:
1. Warm-ups and cool downs are vital to all runners. Warm-ups allow the body and the muscles to prepare for repetitive activities and sports such as running. When the body is not provided with a chance to warm up, runners frequently injure themselves, as they essentially ask their muscles to quickly move from a rested, relaxed state to performing a high impact, high energy activity, which can predispose runners to fatigue and injury. Similarly, cool downs provide the body with an opportunity to revert to its natural state. After performing an activity such as running, a cool down allows the muscles to return to their proper length, which helps avoid tightening and subsequent injury to the muscles.
2. When running during the winter, runners may benefit from wearing multiple layers that are easy to add or remove while running. Running during the wintertime comes with the added challenge of regulating body temperature with a cold environment. Generally, runners tend to feel as if they are running at 10-20° warmer than the actual temperature. Try running with layers like long sleeve shirts, quarter zips, jackets, and vests. Shirts that are worn directly on the skin should be made with moisture-wicking technology to help manage sweat. Each runner will develop their own preference for clothing to wear, including running hats and gloves. It is important to keep your face, ears, and hands warm, so you should use any combination of running attire to do so. Additionally, runners should wear warm socks that will not allow any moisture to affect the feet, especially if running in the rain or after a recent snowfall.
3. Handling the cold air can be tricky. In order to avoid exposing too much of their skin to the cold air, some runners like to use a face mask. Others will use products like Vaseline on their skin. Try them out and see which method works best for you!
4. Safety should be the number one priority when running outdoors. If conditions are icy, runners may opt to use that training day to run indoors on a treadmill/track or to perform a cross training activity/other form of cardiovascular exercise. However, if you are keen on running outdoors with icy conditions, make sure that your shoes will provide you with enough security with traction on the icy patches.
Whether you’re a novice beginner or a seasoned long-distance runner, shopping for running attire can be a daunting task. With so many options, it may be difficult to determine the best options. Have no fear: our resident running expert is here! We sat down with Carley Schleien, PT, DPT, for a quick Q&A session to point you in the right direction during your next shopping trip— save this Quick Tip Guide for reference on-the-go!
What should I look for when choosing a running shoe?
Running shoes can be one of the most difficult and confusing items to purchase. Many types of shoes exist, ranging from neutral ones, to stiffer shoes, to more minimalist pairs. The most important factor to consider is comfort! Overall, running shoes should support the foot and allow the runner’s muscles to naturally engage and activate properly, rather than trying to do the jobs and functions of those muscles.
It is recommended to try on the shoe at the store and walk around; if simply walking around in them is uncomfortable, it is best not to purchase that particular shoe. You should also consider a shoe with a minimal heel drop (6 millimeters or less). Neutral components are most beneficial for runners, as they will allow you to use a more natural running gait pattern.
For a more in-depth recommendation, there are running shoe companies and stores that offer mini analyses to evaluate your running gait. A store associate can then better propose specific shoe types based on your results.
What kind of clothing is best to wear?
There are a wide variety of clothing companies that manufacture running attire, including shirts, sports bras, shorts, leggings, and socks. Runners should attempt to try clothing on prior to running in them to ensure they feel comfortable, which is individualized to each runner. You’ll have the most success when you feel comfortable on your runs!
Are there additional items runners should be wearing at night (for visibility)?
Running shirts and jackets commonly come with reflective gear that is handy to use when running at night. Since the sun sets earlier in the winter, many runners will be running in the dark. It is vital to wear reflective gear when running at night to ensure that drivers and other pedestrians see you. Some runners even run with headlamps or flashlights as additional tools to notify others of their presence.
What can I wear to keep my things safe (keys/wallet/etc)?
Many products exist to help runners keep their valuables safe while running. Runners often choose between wearing a running armband phone sleeve or a running belt around their waist. Both types of products frequently come with pockets and compartments to store your keys, money, etc., and many belts come with sleeves that allow you to hook on your water bottle.
Is a fitness tracker worth utilizing?
Fitness trackers can be especially valuable when preparing and training for a timed or distance race. Runners may benefit from being able to record the length of their runs, their distances, and their pace. Trackers range in sophistication and can include features such as displaying heart rates, altitude/elevation gains, temperature, etc. There are also apps that runners can download on their phones to track pace, distance, and other metrics.
What additional items may be beneficial for runners at different levels?
One of the most important things to focus on while running is hydration. Runners should ensure that they have access to water while running, whether it’s carrying a water bottle or stopping at water fountains spaced throughout their run outdoors. When completing long distance runs, runners should also ensure proper nutrition with gel packs and energy gels in order to ensure proper electrolyte balance throughout the body.
Back in October of 2015, Whitney, an avid runner, was at her peak training for the upcoming marathon. After an injury left her unable to run for several months, Whitney longed to get back to the sport she loved. That’s when she found a passionate team of people at SPEAR’s E 84th Street clinic devoted to helping her work through her injuries.
Whitney encountered many physical and mental hurdles on her journey back to life. Through her own perseverance, and with the team supporting her along the way, she began to notice improvements in her progress. “They helped me stick to a plan, have faith in the healing process, and believe that I would be strong enough to race again,” Whitney recalls.
And run again she did! Whitney was able reach her personal goal of running once more—she participated in the Timberman Half Ironman, crossing the finish line with a personal record time of 5 minutes and 33 seconds!
Whitney went from fearing she’d be out of the game for some time, to accomplishing a personal goal. She even went on to participate in the NYC Marathon for the first time, and as she excitedly put it, “race with intention”. Whitney’s physical activity level improved, and so did her mentality. “I know now that injury is just a reminder of that which needs to be strengthened. The SPEAR team has my back and that is a great feeling.”