Tag Archives: marathon training

Sign Up Now For The iRUNpigs 5K 2014

18 Aug

irunpigs 5k, i run pigs 5k, marathons lehigh valley, races allentown

PA Foot and Ankle Associates is proud to once again sponsor the 3rd Annual iRUNpigs 5k and Piglet run September 14th, 2014 at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. The race is open to runners, walkers and kids under 12 (Piglet run).

Once again this year, PA Foot and Ankle Associates is assembling a team for the race. We’re looking for ten team members, each of whom will receive a complimentary registration, a really cool PA Foot and Ankle Associates tech shirt to wear the day of the race, and all of the swag in the standard registration package from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs: commemorative tech t-shirt, chip timing results via text message, and a free entry in an IronPigs team memorabilia raffle. There will also be prizes for overall male and female winners among age groups.

If you’d like to join our team as a walker or runner, send an email to Heather at PA Foot and Ankle Associates (marketing@pafootdoctors.com)  and let her know that you want to be part of our team. She’ll send you the details. Everybody else can sign up for the iRunPigs 5K here

irunpigs 5k

Our iRunPigs 5k 2013 team (we were known as East Penn Foot and Ankle Associates last year)

The iRUNpigs5k has been redesigned for this year to insure a safer run for everyone. As always, the race will conclude on-field at Coca-Cola Park. Over 1,000 runners and walkers have taken part in the event since its 2012 debut.

Pre-registration and online registration ends on Friday, September 5 at 11:59 p.m. If you miss the deadline, you can sign up at Coca-Cola Park on the day of the event.

100% of the proceeds benefit IronPigs Charities, a non-profit organization striving to provide educational and recreational opportunities for children in the Greater Lehigh Valley area.

How To Run Downhill

1 May
We bet you think running downhill is the easiest, most natural thing in the world, right? Well believe it or not, when it comes to training for long races, there’s actual technique involved in running the downslope. And a significant risk of injury.

woman running downhill

Descending while running feels easy – like you have to actually hold back. But each step downhill can produce muscle-damaging contractions in your quadriceps and lower legs, according to Greg Wells, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Toronto. When running on level ground, these same muscles shorten as they fire, but on declines, they elongate and control your speed, creating micro-tears in the muscle fibers. While these tears ultimately lead to growth in the muscle, they also leave you tired and sore. It’s why the cruel planners of the Boston Marathon torture all of the competitors with a 4-mile downhill opening stretch.

If you’re planning on running a marathon or even a 5K with significant downhill territory, you should practice running downhill to prepare your legs and the rest of your body to handle these very specific muscle demands. Your overall performance will vastly improve for any race, because the muscle you build from the downhill terrain will help you run faster uphill or on level ground with less effort.

Practice running downhill

You can build your downhill muscle with either focused repeats or by running a hilly route. But choose your hills wisely and don’t go too steep, too soon, or you risk injuring your ankles, knees, and hips.

Start with a medium length gradual slope, not a steep decline. And look for a soft surface like grass or gravel, not a paved surface. If you’re training for a long distance race, ultimately you want to combine both kinds of surfaces.

How you hold your head during the downhill training is crucial. Don’t look at your feet – maintain an upright posture and focus your gaze 15 meters in front of you, eyes straight ahead. You may feel a natural tendency to lean backward and slow down, but resist this. Instead, engage your core muscles, lean slightly forward from your ankles, and align your upper body over your lower body. As you descend, take shorter steps, but quicken your cadence. This way, you’ll take lighter steps and land on your midfoot instead of braking with your heel. Also keep your landing leg slightly bent to avoid letting your knees take all the impact.

Training for the race

If you’re planning to run a race filled with downhills, make sure they’re in your training schedule from the get-go. Start small with one downhill training session every other week. When you find that you easily recover from that workout, increase your schedule to one downhill each week and eventually increase that to 2 downhills per week. But only run that second one when you’re sure you’ve completely recovered from your first – no soreness in the legs, knees, ankles, or hips, and no fatigue at all. As race day draws near, dial back these workouts to avoid over exertion and the risk of injury.

Best New Running Shoes for 2014

11 Apr

For all of you runners, spring means that it’s time to shop for new running shoes.

(a note from our docs: please don’t wear last years’ shoes, as they’re probably too worn down to support your feet correctly.) Here are the best shoes for the money for 2014, courtesy of Runner’s World magazine:

Top 3 new running shoes for Men:

adidassuperglide6mar600x600_0Adidas Supernova Glide 6, $130
Top-of-the-line cushioning designed for the long run.

brookspureflow3mar600x600Brooks Pureflow 3, $100
Excellent cushioning, smooth landing.

uaapollomar600x600Under Armour Speedform Apollo, $100
Exciting new shoe worth a look on race day.


Top 3 new running shoes for Women:

womens adidassupernovaglide6fem600x600Adidas Supernova Glide 6, $130
Sturdy trainer with a smooth heel-first landing and springy underfoot.

womens brookspureflow3fem600x600Brooks Pureflow 3, $100
Bargain priced trainer that handles a lot of miles.

uaspeedformapollofem600x600Under Armour Speedform Apollo, $100
Puts your foot close to the ground, but heel cushioning is soft.

That’s right, same shoes for men and women this year.

Remember these tips when choosing a new running shoe

Make sure it fits
The shoe should never slide on your foot – up, down, or sideways. Conversely, it should also not be too tight. It should be “just right” when you put it on.

Are your feet the same as last year?
In other words, do you have any new pain, aches, soreness or fatigue where you weren’t experiencing it before? If so, see your podiatrist for an exam. If you’re developing any problems, they can create a custom orthotic insole for you so that you can keep running.

Remember, it’s best to take simple steps to prevent sports injuries, rather than injuring yourself and sitting out the season.

Here are more tips on choosing the right running shoe.

A stress fracture in your foot can derail your season – how to prevent it

27 Mar
Baseball, football, basketball, Lacrosse, gymnastics, running, tennis – no matter what sport you play, you may experience a stress fracture in your foot or lower leg at some point. And you may not even be aware of it.
rudy owens foot stress fracture

Astros Pitcher Rudy Owens

Even Houston Astros pitcher Rudy Owens didn’t notice the stress fracture in his foot.  “When I first started feeling it, it never hurt when I pitched — only when I’d run,” Owens said. His pain worsened, and eventually he needed surgery to correct the fracture.

But stress fractures can also occur simply by switching playing surfaces from soft to hard, or when a basketball player has a big increase in playing time. Whenever an athlete is engaged in a sport where the foot strikes the ground repeatedly and repetitively, the risk of a stress fracture increases, especially when that athlete doesn’t get proper rest between games or workouts.

Stress fractures occur when muscles in the foot become fatigued. When the fatigued muscle can longer absorb additional shock, it transfers the overload of stress to the bone, which causes a tiny crack. This is the very reason that stress fractures can go undetected and untreated for long periods. You’re not aware of any physical injury – you didn’t drop an anvil on your foot – so you walk it off and keep playing.

Yet the pain worsens, because as you continue to stress the cracked bone, the crack becomes larger, often resulting in a full blown fracture. Then you’re on the sidelines for the season.

How to protect your feet from stress fractures
  • Most stress fractures appear in the weight-bearing bones of the lower legs and feet. Those most susceptible are athletes who subject their feet to repetitive actions on hard surfaces, like basketball players, tennis players, and gymnasts.
  • Proper conditioning is the best defense against stress fractures. If the muscles in your feet and ankles remain strong and flexible, they’re better able to absorb stress. Stretching the muscles in your legs, feet, and ankles pre and post-game or workout is key.
  • Set incremental goals – don’t try to do too much too soon – build up to your goal.
  • Cross training is very effective at working different muscle groups. For instance, if you’re a basketball player, when you’re not on the court, biking or strength training should be your workout, so your feet have time to recover.
  • WEAR PROPER SHOES. We can’t stress this one enough. Many athletic foot injuries can be avoided simply by wearing shoes that offer proper protection and support for your particular activity.
Symptoms of stress fractures

Constant or periodic pain or soreness with activity, which will subside when you rest. There may also be some tenderness or swelling.

Treatment of stress fractures

Rest is essential for healing. If you continue to do the same activity which caused the stress fracture, it will definitely worsen. A stress fracture will take 6-8 weeks to fully heal, which may seem like a long time in-season. However, if you injure the foot further, your healing time will increase, and chronic problems may result.

See a podiatrist as soon as you experience pain in your foot. A stress fracture treated early can have you back in the game quickly.

When resting, elevate and ice the sore foot, and use over the counter anti inflammatory medicine like aleve or advil to manage the pain.

Custom orthotics from a podiatrist’s office, which are worn in your shoes, may be very helpful in shifting weight off of the area of the fracture. This may allow you to resume playing somewhat earlier.

Should you stretch before or after you run?

22 Oct

The field of Exercise Science is relatively new, and its research is turning much of what we accepted as standard advice on its head.

stretching runningYears ago, it was always thought that a runner should warm up with stretching exercises to loosen the muscles, followed by a short walk to get the rest of the body working. Then launch into your run workout. Studies have shown that may not be the best way to protect your body and maximize performance.

The purpose of stretching is to lengthen and relax the long muscles, specifically those called into action when you run. Stretching also improves the range of motion in your joints, reduces soreness after a run, improves circulation, and reduces lower back pain. This is much different than warming up before a run. We now use the term “warming up” very literally – to elevate heart rate and breathing rate, get the blood flowing, and kick the nervous system into gear. Basically getting the body ready for physical exertion.

The latest research in exercise science suggests that a warm-up which mimics at a low rate the actual high intensity workout, is most effective at getting all of the required organs, muscles, bones, and ligaments working together. This allows them to be ready to perform when the more intense exercise begins. For runners, you’ll begin by walking for a few minutes, then light jogging, then running, all the time swinging your arms.

So where does that leave pre-run stretching?

According to Susan Paul, an exercise physiologist and program director for the Orlando Track Shack Foundation,  “Recent research indicates that stretching before running may not be the best time because muscles are cold and therefore, not as elastic and may be more prone to injury… For a short time after stretching… muscle contraction and reaction time can be measurably longer and this temporarily weakens the muscle. Stretching after your run, when muscles and connective tissue are warm, appears to be the better time to include static stretching in your routine.” 

In fact, the New York Times reported in April of this year that research done in Europe showed that all kinds of athletes who performed static stretching before a workout (with no additional warm-up) “reduced strength in the stretched muscles by almost 5.5 percent, with the impact increasing in people who hold individual stretches for 90 seconds or more, [and] that muscle power generally falls by about 2 percent after stretching”.

The explanation for this may be that the muscles are doing exactly what we’re asking them to do – stretch, just like that elastic waistband in your sweats. And when they’re stretched without an accompanying rise in bloodflow and other activity, they stay loose and and take longer to respond to your body’s demands.

So how does this change your warm-up and cool-down? Pre-run stretches are okay, as long as they aren’t performed in isolation and are accompanied by a complete body warm-up. However, stretching is critical immediately after you run, to loosen muscles that have tightened up during your workout and to keep your back flexible, which takes considerable punishment when running. See the list of cool-down stretches at marathontraining.com.

It onlytakes a second to injure yourself and be sidelined for the season. Take the time to warm-up and cool down properly, and you’ll avoid the most common sports injuries.

iRUNpigs 5k Wrap Up, 2013

19 Sep

We’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the 2013 iRUNPigs 5k this past Sunday (September 15) at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. It was an amazing day, just perfect weather for a race.

iRUNpigs 5k team

EPFAA’s 2013 iRUNpigs 5K team. Click for larger image

Our 2013 team deserves a big thanks, too:

  • Angela Smith, Breinigsville
  • Heather Mastropieri, Whitehall (2012 member)
  • Katherine Kressler, Emmaus
  • Jackie Hollan, Laurys Station (2012 member)
  • Whitney Roe, Northampton
  • James Rissmiller, Breinigsville
  • Roxy Fatzinger, Emmaus
  • Kevin Dolan, Nazareth (2012 member)
  • Mary Ellen Rudoi (2012 member)
  • Michelle Halwick, Allentown

We love the fact that all of those team members who ran with us in 2012, ran faster this year! Could it be they’ve been reading our blog posts on training?

To see more pictures from the iRUNpigs 5k 2013 race, visit our facebook page.

And here’s a littlle video we put together of the race day. We even managed to get most of our team members crossing the finish line!

Q and A: Do I Have Shin Splints?

11 Sep


I’ve been a runner for about 30 years.  I average about 20 miles each week. I compete in about 3 marathons each year, usually two halfs and one full. I guess you could say I’m lucky because I’ve had no real injuries. Just the basic sore toes and stuff.  About four weeks ago, I started developing pain in my right shin, and I think it may be shin splints, because the pain goes halfway up the bone, but is not over the bone. I tried backing off during my workouts, but the pain eventually got so bad that I had to stop completely. I’m on day 15 now without running, and I can still feel pain when I walk. How long will the pain last and when can I start running again?

– Rob, Macungie, PA


shin splints runningRob: Shin splints are one of the worst nightmares for a runner, and it sure sounds like that’s the problem. The pain from shin splints is due to overuse and occurs because the muscle and tissues around your tibia bone are working too hard. And we know from personal experience how excruciating it can be – there’s no pain quite like it.

But if you’ve been running for most of your life, it’s unusual that shin splints would suddenly appear unless you’ve changed your workout in some way, or started wearing athletic shoes which don’t fit or have no padding (we’re sure the latter isn’t the case). The real cause of the pain is overworked leg muscles, which can be caused by a stress fracture, collapsing arches, or something else which is causing you to unconsciously change the way you run. Or perhaps you’ve recently intensified your workout or started running on a hard surface?

You’re going to have to sit on the sidelines until the pain completely (and we men completely) subsides. Use ice for 20-30 minutes when needed, and mange the pain with over the counter pain meds like advil or aleve. Light stretching exercises will help to work the muscles in your legs which will speed healing.

When you get back on the road, make sure you’re doing proper warmups before training and increase your training very slowly to re-introduce your leg muscles to the routine. It’s helpful to run or walk on soft surfaces during this time. And by all means, make sure you’re wearing running shoes which fit properly and have plenty of padding where it counts. If the pain starts up again, make an appointment with our office for an exam, because you might need custom orthotics to properly align your foot, ankle, and leg. Good luck, Rob.

6 Rules When Training For A Marathon, Half-Marathon, or 5K

13 Aug

feet running

Few sports are better at testing your mental and physical strength than long distance running. But in the quest to push ourselves farther and faster, sometimes our bodies can’t keep up, and pain tells us so.  Even minor pain in your foot or ankle will affect your performance, as you end up shifting your balance or changing your gait to take pressure off the injury.

The most common foot and ankle injuries for runners can easily be avoided by observing these 6 simple rules.

Rule 1: Wear Proper athletic shoes.

Having the right shoes are critical. Your athletic shoe must fit well and should be padded and supported in the heel, arch, midfoot, and toe to protect your feet from the intense pounding they’ll receive. Buy them at a specialty athletic shoe retailer, not at a big box store, because you  get what you pay for. Cheap shoes are made with cheap materials and little padding or support. If your shoes are more than two years old, upgrade before you start training. Read about choosing the right running shoe.

Rule 2: Always stretch before competition or training.

Never, ever run cold.  Stretching is the simplest way to avoid injuries, but is so often ignored by amateur athletes. Before competition or training, do stretching routines for your entire body, not just your lower extremities, as all of the muscles work together. Warming up also helps prevent damage to bones, tendons, and ligaments. See stretching exercises from Runners World here.

woman stretching before running

Stretching is key to preventing injuries

Rule 3: Do not ignore pain. 

If you ignore pain and keep running, you’ll turn a minor injury into a major problem. If your foot or ankle hurts in any way, get an immediate diagnosis from a podiatrist. Minor injuries treated early minimize down time.  Learn about the most common running injuries.

Rule 5: Increase distance and intensity gradually.

Every runner likes a challenge, but pushing too hard too fast will lead to injury, especially for those whose 20’s are behind them. Begin with interval training (a mixture of walking and running), and slowly increase the running interval every week as race day nears. Rest completely one day a week to allow time for your body to recover.  Read about the best ways to increase your endurance.

Rule 6: Run on different surfaces and routes to increase performance.

Mix up the surfaces you run on.  The differences between grassy areas, sand, or paths in wooded areas has tremendous benefit for the muscles in your feet and ankles – just make sure to avoid obstacles. Muscles adapt quickly to routine, and if we run the same route every day, we limit conditioning. Change it up, and the muscles react accordingly. Read how to boost your performance.

See you on the track!

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