Have you ever thought about running a marathon? According to Running USA, there were “more than 1,100 marathons run across [America]” in 2013 alone, so you’ll have ample opportunities to compete in one of these races. Many of them take place during the fall, when temperatures are cooler and people have more holiday weekends off. While they are a healthy and fun activity, long races can be tough on your trotters. Austin foot and ankle doctor, Jeffery LaMour, is committed to helping our patients lead active lifestyles while safeguarding their podiatric health. In the following blog, we’ll highlight some of the local races happening soon and how you can protect your feet during marathon season.
Upcoming Austin Races
The Austin area will be home to dozens of races this season, so we’ll showcase a few you might find interesting. You can pick which race suits your fancy, or perhaps run all three!
If you’re a hardcore marathoner, you’ll probably want to sign up for Spectrum Trail Racing’s November 5th Wonderland Marathon at MuleShoe Bend in Spicewood, a quick drive from Austin. This event also includes a half marathon and a 10k. Spectrum Trail Racing entices runners to “expect beautiful courses, an amazing community, and a stellar after party full of local flare.”
Perhaps you’d like to start with a half marathon that gives you a little more time to train. In this case, the Decker Challenge Half Marathon right here in Austin might be a good choice. This race has been held every year for nearly four decades. The Decker Challenge is “run on paved surfaces throughout the course” and “features views of the scenic lake for virtually the entire way around.” This hilly race would be a good event to test your skills and enjoy Austin’s beautiful landscape.
If you prefer shorter, more festive races, you might enjoy the Round Rock Rotary Reindeer Run, held the Sunday after Thanksgiving (November 27). This 5K run is perfect as a fun family activity. As you run, walk, or jog, you can check out “the incredible Rock’N Lights; a 2 million light ½ mile must see event of the season.” You can check out the stunning holiday lights display while getting great exercise and raising money for a great cause!
Why Racing is Rough on Feet
Running is good for your body, so why could it be bad for your feet? In his Runner’s World article on this subject, Hal Higdon points out: “our feet absorb more force during running than any other part of the body. Our feet propel us. Our feet have the absolute power to make running comfortable—or miserable.” It’s true; the way you treat your feet can really make or break your running experience.
When you run, you slam your soles repeatedly against the ground. They take the impact of every step, stride, and leap. Without proper care, yours might “ache, blister, sweat, crack, peel, itch, and smell” after running. Active magazine’s Deb Dellapena explains: “ignoring your feet and ankles comes with a price: Plantar fasciitis [torn tissue in the heel, causing a stabbing pain] and Achilles tendinitis [damage to the band of tissue that runs from the calf to the heel] are among the most common issues plaguing runners.”
Fortifying Your Feet
If you were born to run, but don’t want to deal with painful podiatric issues, never fear. There are many ways you can protect your feet so as to minimize this damage and discomfort. Some techniques include:
· Choosing the right gear. Higdon writes: “proper shoe selection is vital to foot health—not merely the shoe brand and model, but the fit,” adding that “fit is just as critical in your non-running footwear” to maintain your athletic feet. He focuses on fit for socks, as well, noting: “ill-fitting socks are one of the primary causes of blisters.” Taking the time to sort through your options and find the right equipment is well worth it. In addition, Dr. LaMour can help you find optimal orthotics for your running shoes.
· Taking it slow. This may seem counter-intuitive to speedsters, but in her Women’s Running piece, Jenny Hadfield suggests that you “develop like a fine wine…the general rule of thumb is to increase your mileage by no more than 10 percent each week,” giving your feet time to catch up with your fitness.
- Finding a good form. Hadfield describes how “increasing your cadence [how often your foot hits the ground] is one of the easiest ways to improve running form.” Similarly, LifeHack advocates for the “POSE Method of running” to “avoid…planar fasciitis.”
- Stretching. Dellapena highlights “8 exercises to prevent foot injuries” so you can improve your flexibility and strength.
Do You Want More Tips for Marathon Season?
Dr. LaMour and our team would be delighted to help you prepare your feet for your next race with our many services. We can also assist you in treating sports injuries so you can run more safely and swiftly. Contact our Austin foot and ankle practice today to schedule an appointment.