Caring For Your Body During Distance Race Training

Now that spring is here, distance runners are coming out of hibernation and preparing for their big races.  With the Carmel Marathon, Mini Marathon and the Geist Half happening in Indy within the next month, runners need to keep their bodies in check to help prevent injuries.


Jamey Gordon, DPT, ATC, CSCS, performance Specialist at St.Vincent Sports Performance, gives distance runners tips on keeping their bodies healthy while training for their upcoming races.


Listen to your body. If an injury causes you to limp during running, stop. You can take a walk break and attempt to run again, but if pain and limping return, call it day. If pain persists for more than 2-3 days, seek out an injury assessment. 


Take a day off. Running everyday is tough even for the most seasoned runners.  The body will heal and build itself up during the rest time.  Training tells the body what it needs, rest builds it.


If you have swelling, stop running until it is resolved. Apply ice directly to the swollen area for 20-30 minutes, no more.  Intermittent icing is okay, as long as you make sure the area returns to normal temperature before reapplying.  If swelling persists or is recurrent, contact a health professional.


Sharp pain is the body’s danger signal. This should not be “worked through.” At the very least, take a break and walk if sharp pain occurs. Dull aches in the absence of limping or swelling are okay to continue through, as long as it does not worsen during the run.


There are common injuries that many distance runners face. Be aware of your body if these symptoms become present.


Plantar fasciitis

  • Feels like: Pain on the bottom of the foot/heel, especially first thing in the morning.
  • First line treatment: Stretch the calves; roll the foot on a golf ball or rolling pin.  Gradually warm up for running with walking or light jogging.


IT Band Inflammation


Achilles Tendonitis

  • Feels likes: Pain in the calf  to the heel on the back of the lower leg .
  • First line treatment: Ice and stretch the calves, with a gradual warm-up.


Knee pain is also a common occurrence in runners and can be caused by a number of factors. If swelling is present, seek an evaluation from a healthcare professional for a gait assessment.


If you are transitioning from running inside on the treadmill to running outside, dress appropriately. Dress for an outside temperature that is 15-20 degrees warmer than the actual temp. This will accommodate for rise in body temp during running.


Layer your clothes. The innermost layer should be a moisture wicking material and outermost should be wind/rain proof if weather dictates.


Transitioning to running outside from the treadmill should be done gradually over about two weeks. Mix up inside and outside running for those two weeks to get your body used to the differences without sacrificing your hard-earned training.


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