If you’re an avid runner, you know the first Sunday in November brings marathoners and fans alike to New York City. Race day is the culmination of months of training, and while many training programs focus on building up your mileage, it’s important to focus on running safely.
As proud New Yorkers, our team of specialists here at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, in Midtown and Downtown Manhattan, cheer for each racer who comes to our great city.
If you’re preparing to run in the NYC Marathon, we encourage you to keep reading and consider these tips for running safely to help reduce ankle, foot, and heel pain.
General safety tips
Running safely in a marathon comes down to preparation steps you take before race day and on race day.
Before the marathon
Following a proper training regimen is ideal for preventing foot problems. A good training program should add miles gradually to your weekly log. Adding miles too quickly can increase your risk of Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis 一 two conditions that can develop if you add too many miles too quickly.
In addition to following a reasonable training pace, it’s important to add non-running activities into your exercise regimen. Running without focusing on other types of workouts can increase your risk of overuse injuries. The best tip is to focus on cross-training.
- Increases your upper body strength (which can help avoid neck and shoulder fatigue during the latter part of your marathon)
- Decreases stress on the bones in your feet
- Improves your aerobic fitness and decreases your risk of injury
- Reduces the risk of overuse injuries like Achilles tendonitis
Good cross-training activities include cycling, spinning, swimming, plyometrics, and strength training.
Safety tips for race day
On the day of the marathon, one of the most important things you can do is wear the right pair of shoes with the right pair of socks. Wearing worn-out shoes (or shoes with the wrong type of arch support) can exacerbate foot problems and strain your plantar fascia.
Before you grab brand new shoes, keep in mind that running in brand new shoes that haven’t been broken in can be just as bad as wearing worn out shoes. New shoes can lead to blisters, and if the arch support isn’t quite right, your foot pain could sabotage your race results. Instead, wear familiar shoes that you’ve worn throughout your training program.
Pair your supportive shoes with moisture-wicking socks. Wet, soggy socks can also irritate your feet and increase your risk of blisters. Be sure to pack an extra pair of dry socks to change into after you’ve crossed the finish line.
To prevent blisters and other foot injuries, make sure your toenails are trimmed straight across. Apply moleskin patches or blister pads to prevent blisters and calluses. Make sure your laces aren’t too loose or too tight.
In addition to wearing well-fitting shoes, another key safety tip is to stretch and warm up. Stretching before the race helps reduce your risk of injury, because stretching warms up your muscles, making them flexible and ready to move. Stretching after your run helps reduce post-marathon soreness.
Other general safety tips include:
- Dress for the weather (and wear sweat-resistant sports moisturizer to reduce wind burn)
- Stay hydrated and learn to recognize the signs of dehydration and hypothermia
- Eat breakfast on race day (even if you have a nervous stomach, your body needs the fuel)
- Consume carbohydrates during the race
- Pace yourself properly
- Wear any necessary gear including knee braces, Kinesio® tape, or orthotics
- Get a good night of sleep the night before the race, as fatigue can increase your risk of sports injuries, including ankle sprains
- Keep your eye on any uneven surfaces you may encounter
Remember: Focus on personal performance rather than competing with those next to you.
What if your foot hurts during your race
Sometimes, despite the best preparation, things beyond your control happen. If your foot hurts during the marathon, stop running. Running on an injury can exacerbate the condition. Take walking breaks if needed; and for cramps or fatigue, a short walking break might be all you need.
However, if a walking break isn’t enough, don’t push yourself. On-site trainers or emergency medical professionals may help you get started with the RICE protocol. For foot injuries, our providers are just a call or click away.