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How to Safely Train for the St. Louis Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

August 23, 2011

On October 23, 2011, several thousand people are going to run in the St. Louis Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Are you?

Running a marathon can be thrilling. The build up of training, actual race day and post-race recovery can send you on a roller coaster of emotions. It can be challenging, daunting, exhausting. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon adds a little more: it provides an exciting environment with musical pick me ups every mile.

If this is your first marathon, make sure you train properly, especially since this marathon will be at the tail end of October. That means you’re training starts in the middle of the summer, during some of the hottest days of the year.

But don’t let the training or heat overwhelm you. Instead, let these tips guide you into running and completing the marathon with minimal–if at all–injury.

Choose the Appropriate Training Program

There are many resources out there to choose from. Runner’s World and Running Time’s both provide schedules suited to beginners, novices and experts.

And listen: be honest with yourself. If you are truly a beginner, choose the beginner program. Do not be embarrassed. You will pay if you choose the wrong program and end up training to fast too soon. In fact, if there is any doubt, choose the program below you to be safe.

Choose the Right Pair of Shoes

I recommend buying two pairs of shoes. Most experts recommend trading your old shoes in at 400 miles. You will exceed that amount about two-thirds of the way through your training.

Instead, alternate during your training period to break both shoes in. Visit a running store so they can evaluate your running style and recommend the right shoes. This will be pricey–but it’s worth it.

Include Strength Training

If you’re a runner, why should you lift weights? Well, I don’t recommend lifting weights, but I do recommend using bands or resistance exercise like push ups and pull ups. Your arms will be in better shape (your swinging them for 26.2 miles) and won’t unnecessarily wear you out.

Stretch Regularly

Some experts insist you do yoga. It’s not so important that you can bend like a pretzel. In fact, tight, inflexible runners stand to gain the most. You’ll not only get stronger, fitter and faster, but you’ll avoid injury, too.

Take Care of Your Injuries

The nice thing about training for a marathon is that you have time to miss a few training sessions to allow a small injury to heal. Maybe it’s a soreness in the hip or a small tweak in the groin. Take a week off even if you think you can run through it.

Avoid Extreme Heat

More than likely you started training in July. That means you had to deal with it’s heat–and August. And as you know, it’s been a scorcher. Never run in the middle of the day if it is in the 90s or higher. Preferably run early in the morning. Late evening is okay, too. And drink plenty of fluids.

Get Plenty of Rest

Training for a marathon demands a lot from you–physically and emotionally. Make sure you modify your lifestyle so that you are not chopping wood all day on a Saturday and then running long on Sunday. Your body will hate you on Monday and your family may not appreciate you either.

Good luck!

Dr. Rick Lehman is a distinguished orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri and an articular cartilage reconstruction pioneer He owns U. S. Sports Medicine in Kirkwood, MO, and LehmanHealth. Learn more about Dr. Rick.


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