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Marathon Training & Quick Tips

Marathon Training & Quick Tips

Is running a marathon on your bucket list? Right up there with writing a book, climbing a mountain, and jumping out of an airplane – it takes a lot to get there. If you’re one of the lucky ones to accomplish this incredible feat, you’ll join the mere 0.5 percent of the US population that actually completes a full marathon.

Northern’s co-owner and physical therapist, Gina Otterbein, recently completed the Boston Marathon for the second time! While running is now a core part of her lifestyle, it wasn’t always that way. Gina didn’t start running until she was in her 30’s, and even then, it was just a quick jog with the dog. Over time she came to really appreciate the sport and began training for her first marathon four years ago.

Marathon Training & Quick TipsThe journey to Gina’s first 26.2 miles was never easy, but always worth it. Here is Gina’s list of everything you need to know to complete your first marathon.

Marathon Quick Tips

  • Many marathons have a cut-off time. Runners in the Boston Marathon have six hours to complete the course, after the last starter begins.
  • Get to the starting line early. If you need to take a quick pit stop get in line at least a half hour before the official start time because lines may be very long.
  • If you like  to run with music, find out in advance whether headphones are allowed on the course because not all marathons allow them.
  • Start out slowly and pace yourself. It’s easy to let adrenaline get the best of you, but starting out too fast is a rookie mistake.
  • If you have a friend or family member there to cheer you on, find out in advance where they’ll be. Spotting that support system along the way can be a huge boost when you really need it.

Marathon Training

Training for a marathon typically takes anywhere from 12-20 weeks, depending how experienced you are with running. The four primary elements of marathon training are:

  1. Base Mileage – Running 3-5 times per week to build your weekly mileage
  2. Long Run – Every 7-10 days get your body used to going longer distances, eventually working your way up to 20 miles
  3. Speed / Cross Training – Practice intervals, speed, and hills to increase your cardio capacity. Gina likes to include biking and swimming to enhance her cross training.
  4. Rest and Recovery – You have to let your body recover to prevent burnout and reduce your chances for injury

Runners who are just starting out will need more time to recover from intense marathon training so it’s going to take longer to build up to the longer runs. Starting from the couch? No worries, you’ll get there, but you can’t rush things. Here are a few tips for starting a simple walking or running routine. It’s not unheard of to train for almost a year before taking the marathon leap. The key is to build up to it so you don’t get hurt – an injury will keep you out of the race far longer, and may sideline you for good if you lose all momentum. In an effort to avoid injury, Gina saw a physical therapist for an entire year before the Boston Marathon.  She also had a gait analysis conducted to review her form, strength, motion, and stride. Maintaining proper form can increase your speed, make running more comfortable, and reduce your chances for injury.

Another thing that Gina loved having done before and after the marathon was dry needling. Because of its ability to loosen stiff muscles, ease joint pain, and improve blood flow and oxygen circulation, dry needling provided positive results when Gina was feeling tight muscles, aches, and pains. She felt immediate relief after a treatment, making it one of her favorite techniques.

Marathon Training & Quick TipsChoosing a marathon
Keep in mind that you have to pre-qualify for some of the bigger races, Boston included. Choosing a marathon that’s close to home will give you an advantage because you can train on the actual course and get comfortable with it. If you qualify for a “bucket-list” course like Boston or New York City, you may find yourself motivated by the excitement of the situation. Also keep the course terrain in mind. A new course may be hilly, busy, or just different than anything you’ve run before.

Pace yourself
While marathon training, estimate how long it will take you to finish so you know how to properly pace yourself. This is also helpful when you have friends and family members waiting at the finish line to cheer you on – this way they’ll have an idea as to when you may be approaching. A handy formula to give you a general idea is to double your recent half marathon time,  then add 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the difficulty of the course. You can also use a pace calculator like this one.

What to wear
Possibly the most important item for race day is a comfortable long distance running shoe. Find one that provides the right amount of cushion and stability for longer distances, and then train in it to make sure it feels good when you go long distances.

Wear clothing that’s appropriate for temps that are 15 to 20 degrees warmer than it actually is, no matter how chilly it might seem. Once you start running your body will heat up pretty quickly.

Finally, never wear anything new on race day. You don’t need an obnoxious sock rubbing on your toe for four hours. Wear clothing and shoes that you know you’ll be comfortable in for a few hours. Consider training in fabrics that wick to help keep you cool and dry as you run.

What to eat & drink
Before your run: To sustain energy levels, eat a high-carb, low-fiber meal three to four hours before your run begins. That way your body a chance to digest the food and it reduces the risk of having stomach issues during your run. When you run long distances your body relies on glycogen for fuel, which is why people often eat carb-heavy meals the night before a big race. Pasta, bread or potatoes can help fill your glycogen stores so you can start the race feeling good.

During your run: If you don’t fuel up during your run, your glycogen will typically run out within a couple hours so you’ll have to consider a mid-run snack to replenish your energy stores, keep fatigue at bay, and help activate your fat burning for fuel. A high carb snack like sports drinks, energy gels, nuts, raisins or two tablespoons of honey will help.

After your run: Eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein 30 to 60 minutes after your run is essential in helping speed up your body’s recovery time. The carbs help to restore the energy that was burnt and the protein helps heal and repair your muscle tissue. Even a 200-300 calorie snack will help, then a few hours later you can have a larger meal that’s filled with carbs and proteins.

While training, and on race day, it’s essential to get enough to drink. Even the slightest amount of dehydration can slow you down. Before you run we recommend eight ounces of water or sports drink. During your run try to drink three to six ounces of a sports drink that contains carbohydrates and electrolytes to replenish sodium.

Marathon recovery
Drink several cups of water or a sports drink to feed your tired muscles right after the race. Take a little time to walk and stretch so you can let your muscles cool down. In the days after the race you should hold off on running for at least a week, then take your time easing back into it. Take good care of your body post-race because your immune system may be more vulnerable right after a marathon.

What if you get injured while marathon training?
Injuries can affect beginner and seasoned runners. If you’re feeling a slight ache or pain every time you run, don’t ignore it – it will only get worse. The sooner you get these pains taken care of, the less chance you have of experiencing a more serious injury. If you’re currently training for a race of any kind it’s a good idea to have your form and body mechanics checked out. A functional movement screen will find potential weaknesses and reduce your chances for injury. We also offer free consultations so if you’ve got a 5k or marathon training question, or issues when you run, schedule an appointment with a specialist before it gets worse.

 

If you have any questions on running, training, dry needling, or a Gait Analysis, contact one of our sports rehab specialists – Gina Otterbein, Terri Jeurink, or Diana Painter.

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Marathon Training & Quick Tips

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

Susie Kluting has used a wheelchair or crutches to get around her entire life, but one could argue that she’s equally comfortable on the ice. Despite being born with spina bifida, 26 year old Coopersville resident Susie has never let that get in her way. Susie has tried wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball, swimming, fencing, water skiing, and rock climbing. While she’s always enjoyed being active, she longed for a sport that would really speak to her – that’s where sled hockey came in.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckSpina bifida left Susie with limited use of her legs, but she never let her “different ability” get her down. The second youngest of six children, Susie grew up on a farm and inherited a love for animals and cheering on her siblings at their various sporting events. While she loved the years she spent showing rabbits through 4-H, riding four-wheelers with her brothers, and farm life in general, she wanted to find something new that she could do with people who were “more like her.”

At a young age Susie began trying a variety of different clinics and playing sports through Mary Free Bed. Although she tried many different sports and continued to attend sports camp every summer until she was 18, Sled Hockey is the one she excels in.

Sled hockey was invented in the early 1960s by a group of Swedes at a rehabilitation center who, despite their physical disabilities, wanted to continue playing hockey. Sled hockey follows most standard ice hockey rules, except players sit in specially designed sleds that sit on top of two hockey skate blades. Each player has two sticks which are used to hit the puck and to propel themselves.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

Northern Physical Therapy has been a big part of my recovery from all sports injuries, and they’ve helped tremendously in allowing me to maintain my ability for the past 8 years. I love the team at Northern! They’re so helpful, friendly and always happy to answer any questions I have. Northern PT has helped my independence as a young adult and made it possible for me to do daily tasks at home, take care of myself, enjoy activities with my family, and compete in team sports – for this I am so grateful. – Susie Kluting, physical therapy patient living with spina bifida

For the last six years Susie has been the Assistant Captain for the adult Grand Rapids Sled Wings, which was formed because of the high level of interest from players who were over 18, which is the age limit for the junior league. She has also been a part of the U.S.A women’s sled hockey team. Susie can even thank sled hockey for introducing her to her boyfriend Connor. They met in 2010 at a sled hockey camp in Rochester, N.Y. and have been dating since 2017.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckBecause Susie is living a majority of her life in a wheelchair, and is also someone who is very active, she understands that injury is always a possibility. To keep her game in check, and to maintain her level of daily activity, Susie regularly receives physical therapy treatments, even during her off season.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckHow can physical therapy help With spina bifida?
Physical therapy plays an important role in helping children and adults with spina bifida gain and maintain mobility, and function at their best throughout all stages of life. Spina bifida is a birth defect involving the spine that occurs when a baby’s “neural tube,” or fetal spinal cord, does not completely close in the early stages of development during the first month of a mother’s pregnancy.

Spina bifida may cause both physical and intellectual disabilities that range from mild to severe, depending on the size and location of the opening in the spine, and the extent to which the spinal cord and nerves are affected. Babies born with spina bifida often cannot move their legs due to weakness or paralysis resulting from spinal cord and nerve damage.

People living with spina bifida can experience partial or complete paralysis and may need assistive devices like braces, wheelchairs, or crutches. These people work with physical therapists to learn specific muscle strengthening exercises.

We can help
A spina bifida diagnosis can leave parents with many questions and concerns. If you’ve wondered how physical therapy can help you or your child, schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists. We’ll conduct an evaluation and talk about the different treatment opportunities available.

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An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

As a parent, it’s tough to watch your student athlete get benched due to an injury. They want nothing more than to get out there and play, and you love to cheer them on. As a new season approaches and we start gearing up for spring sports, it tends to be a busy time of year. More physical activity, more training, more equipment, and more parent taxis taking kids to practice.

Along with those weekend games and after school practices, we see a lot more injuries. More often than not, injuries tend to go unnoticed (or unmentioned by your child) and eventually lead to worsening conditions. These are sometimes referred to as musculoskeletal injuries, usually caused by trauma or overuse. Understanding these possible injuries and their signs is the first step to keeping your child safe, and on the field.

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Coopersville Athletic Trainer Mackenzie Delgado is pictured with the girls volleyball team.

“One of my soccer players injured her ankle playing basketball and it wasn’t healing on its own as quickly as we had hoped. I knew if she didn’t get in for physical therapy that she’d certainly be benched once soccer started. Within a few therapy sessions her ankle began showing significant signs of improvement. At this rate, I’m certain she’ll be ready once soccer practice starts.” Mackenzie Delgado, Coopersville Public Schools Athletic Trainer

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Here are some signs of young athlete injuries for parents to watch out for:

  • Overuse Injury
    Watch for gradual pain, stiffness, aching, visible swelling, and tenderness. Our Functional Movement Screens identify the weak link and correct it by looking at fundamental movement patterns, which are the foundation for proper fitness and performance.
  • ACL Injuries
    Watch for popping sounds, immediate pain/weakness, and loss of motion. Our sports rehab specialists will help your student athlete heal faster and regain strength so they can get back in the game.
  • Sprains
    Watch for general pain, swelling, warmth, bruising, redness, and impaired movement. Our complimentary injury screenings are a great way to talk to a physical therapist, free of charge, to find out what’s causing the issue and the next best steps. Whether it’s a sprain, a twist, or just general pain, we’re here to help. Rather than doing research online and attempting to self-diagnose, come in and talk with a licensed physical therapist who can explain what’s going on and get your young athlete back in the game with the proper treatment.
  • Concussion
    Watch for headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, and blurry vision. Because no two concussions are the same, our exam is essential to assess your child’s individual symptoms and limitations. We’ll then design a treatment program especially for you.

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Talk to your kids
It’s important to be as open with your kids as possible. Make it a point to teach them about playing smart and to encourage proper warm-up procedures. By opening the door, children are more likely to talk about their pain without fearing the possible repercussions of sitting out. Be sure to follow up with any major falls and blunt force blows to the body. Regular pre-participation physicals are also vital for sports season and renewed confidence of your child’s wellbeing.

“My son was experiencing unexplained elbow pain and we were worried that it would affect his game. The school’s athletic trainer, Tyler DeBrot, recommended we give physical therapy a try. After just a few treatment sessions the elbow pain was gone and my son’s game was back to normal. Undergoing physical therapy treatment got him back on the court faster – I’m so glad we gave PT a try!” – Grant Parent

Our team of sports rehab experts and athletic trainers are here for your family, at every stage in the game. Young athlete injuries are often easily treated, especially when caught early on. If your child is experiencing any kind of pain, schedule a free consultation to talk with a physical therapist. Because Michigan is a Direct Access state, you don’t need a referral from your physician prior to seeking physical therapy treatment. Contact us with any questions you have, we’re happy to help!

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Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

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