Running a 13.1-mile mini marathon is a huge accomplishment that puts a lot of stress on all systems of your body, including the muscles, tendons and bones. Most injuries that occur during mini marathon training and on race day are the result of running too far of a distance too fast (not gradually building up to it), not properly warming up or wearing poor footwear while running.
Some of the most common running injuries include injuries to the front of the knee, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints and hip pain. If you experience an injury while running, rest, ice and light stretching are generally good ways to ease the pain. If these actions do not help with the pain within several days, it’s best to consult with a physician.
The best way to deal with an injury is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Below are tips on how you can prevent injuries while accomplishing your goal of completing a mini marathon:
Proper preparation and training for a mini marathon involves gradually building up your mileage over several months to build endurance and strength. Strengthening your muscles helps in reducing common overuse injuries, including tendonitis of the feet, ankles, knees, hips and shins, and stress fractures.
Besides running, a proper training program involves a strengthening program, cross training (participating in other types of exercise to build endurance and strength) and adequate days of rest, to let the muscles repair and rebuild.
“When you are preparing for a mini marathon, you are doing it in a way to prevent injury. Your body needs time to recover, especially from the longer runs that you do while you’re training and preparing for race day. If you don’t give your body time to recover, you are more susceptible to injury,” says Robert Klitzman, MD. Dr. Klitzman is an experienced marathon runner, Orthopaedic Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy at Indiana University Health Physicians and Assistant Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery at IU School of Medicine. “During training, the systems of the body, including your bones, muscles and tendons, are constantly breaking down and building back up and if you over accelerate the breaking down process without giving it time to rebuild, you’re going to have injuries and you won’t make it to race day.”
Training programs vary from person to person depending on your base level of fitness, so it’s best to consult with a professional or online program to determine the best way for you to train and prevent injury.
PROPER STRETCHING AND WARM UP
A proper stretching and warm up program goes a long way in preventing injuries when running long distances as it includes the loosening and strengthening of muscles. Prior to running, you should walk your way to a light jog for three minutes in order to warm up the muscles. Following that, all areas of the body should be stretched, using a combination of dynamic stretching (moving from one stretch to another) and static stretching (doing one stretch and holding). It’s also important to do a similar walking/jogging and stretching routine after running, to prevent injury.
Running in good footwear that provides support for your individual foot mechanics helps avoid injury to the feet, ankles, knees and hips.
“Don’t use a pair of running shoes just because they look good or do good advertising on TV,” says Dr. Klitzman. “Instead, have shoes that are made for the way that you run and provide support in the correct areas of the foot. A very common way people get injured as they start the training process is because they are in the wrong shoes.”
Learn more about selecting proper footwear.
WATCH YOUR STEP!
Running a mini marathon involves running outside during training and on race day. Be sure to watch your step while running to avoid holes or cracks in the ground that may cause an ankle sprain or a trip-and-fall incident. On race day, you will run in a crowd of people that may require weaving in and out of other racers. Be careful not to step on other participants, as this may cause injury to you or them.