Marathon Madness, Part III!

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In light of the upcoming NYC marathon on Nov 3, we’re posting Q&As with medical, fitness & wellness experts to support runners before — and after — the big day. Dr. Mark Klion is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon with specialty training in sports medicine and is a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai. He is also an avid athlete himself, having completed six marathons and three iron man triathlons.

Q: Being a long distance athlete yourself, what is the most common pitfall marathon runners experience pre-marathon?

If this is the first marathon, runners begin to doubt themselves as the race approaches. If they have been on a good training plan, once all the work is finished, during last few weeks as they begin to taper the hard work will pay off. All too often an athlete tries to make up for the so-called “missed workout.” They may have missed a workout from illness, injury or other commitment and feel that they need to add it on to their schedule. This can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and not only is it not necessary but can lead to new injuries from overtraining. The goal in the last few weeks of training is to maintain race intensity workouts but decrease volume and allow for adequate recovery.

Q: How important are shoes for the actual marathon? Should they purchase new ones, use their current shoes?

The proper shoe is the one piece of equipment that is essential to a good run. Never would I recommend buying a new shoe prior to the marathon. Each shoe is different despite same model and size. A runner should probably put in about 2-3 weeks of breaking it in prior to running a marathon. Race shoe or training shoe? Light or heavy? Whatever the runner has been training in that is what they should use. Nothing new should be tried on race day!

Q: How important is ice in terms of a remedy for aches and pains pre and post marathon?

Ice is the cheapest, safest, and most effective way of reducing swelling and pain from the effects of running. Ice whether cubes in a bag, bag of frozen peas, or a reusable ice pack should be placed on the affected area for approximately 10-15 every 2-3 hours as needed. Always protect the skin from burning with either a soft cloth or towel and please don’t fall asleep with the ice pack on. I have seen athletes sustain skin burns from ice placed for too long on a given area.

Q: Do you find that sports massage integrated into training is beneficial?

Sports massage can be of potential benefit to any training program. As we are all limited on time, many of us neglect to continue stretching pre- and post- workouts.  Hard workouts also often leave muscles tired and sore. Therapeutic sports massage intended to reduce muscle soreness and tightness through appropriate technique can help musculoskeletal recovery. In the week before a race an athlete should be cautious before engaging in a strenuous massage. Irritation and increased soreness can occur if too deep of a massage is performed. Post-race massage can be good for recovery to help flush swelling and by-products of exercise out of the extremities.

What is the most common injury that you see in marathon runners that could be prevented with a simple training adjustment or strengthening exercise before the race, and what is that adjustment?

Most if not all runners have some aspect of core weakness. This is because running involves essential one motion, forward propulsion. Our core, which includes our abdominal, pelvic and hip muscles, initiates motion and control balance. From repetitive running motion the core can be underutilized and subsequently become deconditioned. This can lead to increased stress to the lower extremities and cause subsequent injury. Exercises for core and hip strengthening, done for a few minutes a few times a week during all training cycles, can ensure a strong body foundation and help reduce common running injuries of the lower extremities.

Want more? Check out Matt’s great exercises and running coach Jonathan Cane’s awesome advice. Be sure to also join us for our pre & post marathon masterclasses here at Kinected:

Wed, 10/23: 7-8:15pm with Bennalldra Williams

Sun, 11/10: 2-3:15pm with Matt McCulloch & Elliot Fishbein, PT

Also be sure to check out our in-store Pilates for (post!) Marathoners series at Jack Rabbit Sports: Saturday, 11/16 at 8:30-9:30am — FREE!  (JRS’s Union Square location, RSVP to custserv@jackrabbitsports.com).


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