Preparing for the Gate River Run

Free training program at YMCA, injury prevention are key

The Gate River Run, the national championship 15K is March 11. 

Last year, over 24,000 people participated in one of the events associated with the Gate River Run. 

News4Jax's Melanie Lawson is training for the race this year. She spoke with Ponte Vedra YMCA Wellness Experience director Erin Dankworth, who said that avoiding injury can make a major difference in your experience.

READ: Melanie Lawson's training blog

A free Gate River Run training program at Ponte Vedra, Brooks, Williams and Winston YMCAs is underway and is open to members and non-members.

According to the New York Times, nearly 80 percent of runners are injured each year and most injuries are due to running too much or sudden changes in training volume.

"Most of the time, they jump way too early into high mileage," said Dankworth. "Sometimes it's just overuse, not giving your body enough rest."

Runner's knee is a common injury, a tender pain around or behind the kneecap. One way to train through runner's knee is to only run on flat or uphill surfaces and try to run on softer surfaces when possible.

Shin splints, caused by overuse along the shinbone, and IT Band Syndrome are common as runners increase mileage and frequency during training. IT Band Syndrome is a tightness of the iliotibial band, a ligament that stretches from your pelvis to shin along the outside of your thigh, which helps stabilize your knee when you run. It can also derail training. If it becomes too tight, you might feel a nagging knee pain.

Dankworth suggests utilizing a foam roller to alleviate pain during training. 

"A lot of people don't realize that their entire body is connected," Dankworth said. "When you're running, its not just your legs, its not just  your knees, its your entire body in that kinetic chain."

Feet are not immune to injuries. Plantar fasciitis causes inflammation and intense heel pain, but a simple tennis ball can help.

Stretching before injury can help avoid more serious injuries. 

In order to prevent as many injuries as possible, Dankworth recommended that runners build mileage gradually, stretch, stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet. She also advised to warm up and cool down before and after all runs and races and consider ice treatment for a maximum of 20 minutes, depending on the area.

Another way to prepare for a big run is to run the race route, or at least the race distance, before the race. This will help runners experience and control their adrenaline and pace on race day. 

There are a number of races planned leading up to the Gate River Run festivities, including the St. Augustine Mardi Gras 5K and Fun Run on Sunday at the St. Augustine Beach Pier. Sign up by visiting www.FirstCoastYMCA.org.

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