By: Jesica D'Avanza
Safety is an important theme for all aspects of running. Today, runner, triathlete and marathon coach Jesica D’Avanza from www.runladylike.com is sharing her tips for staying safe while marathon training.
Spring has officially arrived. As the snow begins to thaw, flowers start to bloom and the weather is more enjoyable for being outdoors again, long-distance runners everywhere have marathon training on their minds.
There are so many factors that lead to successful running and marathon training – running history, gait and mechanics, weight, injury prevention, nutrition, gear, consistency, strength, age and much more. But have you ever thought about the one factor that has the deepest impact on our marathon training success?
Everything we do as successful runners is about staying safe. From taking steps to prevent injury to ensuring our personal safety on the run, these 8 tips can help you have a safer and more enjoyable marathon training season (or running any distance you choose).
- Start slow
The number one cause of running injuries and setbacks is trying to do too much too fast. Increasing your mileage and/or building speed too quickly often leads to injuries that require time off of running. When building weekly mileage, don’t increase your mileage by more than 10 percent week over week. Every three weeks, drop your weekly mileage back, including your long training run, by about 20 percent to give your body some time to recover.
- Commit to a warmup
Warming up properly before a hard workout or run can help reduce injury. 10 minutes of slow jogging followed by 10 minutes of dynamic stretching (not static stretching) will help you feel better while running and prepare your body for increased stress.
- Lube up!
When weather (like heat and rain) don’t agree with running clothes, chafing can lead to some serious ouchies! To help keep your skin safe and free from blisters or raw skin, generously apply lubricants such as Aquaphor, Body Glide or another similar product to areas where seams, socks and other areas might rub. There’s nothing worse than stepping into the shower after a long run to feel the burn of chaffed skin.
- Incorporate strength training
Running injuries commonly occur from having muscle imbalances where weakness in one area causes an injury in another. Help prevent these imbalances by making time to strength train twice a week. Committing to just 30 minutes of strength training to help strengthen our weaker areas can help us become stronger runners.
- Never run through pain
Don’t jeopardize your long-term running abilities to push through pain. There will be other races and other marathon training seasons. If you are experiencing acute, serious pain that is not just tightness or soreness, stop and immediately go see a sports medicine doctor to determine if you can safely run or if you need to take time off or follow a specific recovery protocol. As runners, our main goal should be to train safely and healthy for life.
- Be visible
Sometimes fitting in a run requires us to run in the wee hours of the morning or after work at night. If you’re running when the daylight is dim, make sure vehicles can see you to avoid a dangerous situation. Wear brightly colored clothes with reflective features, a reflective vest and/or a head lamp, knuckle lights or clip-on lights.
- Join a group
Finding a local training group through your specialty running store or running club is a great way to stay safe and avoid running alone. Finding running partners can ensure someone is with you in case something happens or you need help. It’s also a wonderful way to make life-long friends and learn from more experienced runners.
- Protect yourself from dangerous situations
After one of my best running friends was attacked while running in the middle of the day in 2012, personal safety while running and marathon training has been one of my top concerns. I’ve taken a self-defense course for athletes, and I consistently run with products from SABRE, especially if I’m running alone.
My favorite products are the Personal Alarm with Key Ring and the Runner Pepper Spray with Adjustable Hand Strap.
I rarely run alone without them. I fell in love with SABRE’s personal alarm last year, so having a dual alarm and pepper spray feature is amazing. The alarm is LOUD – as in deafening – at 110 dB. It helps scare off attackers. It is small, sleek and easy to carry with you for use at a moment’s notice. Similarly, I’ve been using the Runner Pepper Spray for a while and it is ideal for runners on the go. It comfortably straps to your hand while running and has police strength heat. Thanks to a powerful stream delivery, it has less blow back from the wind and can emit 35 bursts at up to 10 feet away. Although we can’t always control bad things from happening, we can and should do our best to be prepared in case of a dangerous situation.
How do you stay safe while running and marathon training?
About Jesica D'Avanza
Jesica D’Avanza is a communications professional, writer and the blogger behind runladylike.com. As a runner, triathlete and coach, she’s on a mission to find her extraordinary and inspire others to do the same. On her blog – appropriately named by combining the words “run” and “unladylike” – she shares her uncensored and unladylike adventures of running and triathlon training. Jesica lives in Atlanta and has completed eight marathons, eight half marathons and numerous triathlons, including two half iron distance races. Jesica is also a certified marathon coach. In her day job, she serves as vice president of marketing communications for the nation’s largest nonprofit organization that fights muscle disease. You can also follow her adventures on Twitter (@rUnladylike), Instagram (@runladylike) and Facebook.