Did I catch you off guard?

The Summary usually belongs at the end.

Lock in the following three points, and the rest is detail:

1. Plan ahead.
2. Don’t get injured.
3. Don’t get injured.



I run.

My patients run.

Whether it is running, soccer, tennis, or any other sport, one of the most important keys to improving is detailed preparation for that activity.

Don’t allow the maximum stress of that activity to get ahead of your conditioning.

Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. (Cannot stress the above statement too much.)

There will surely come a point at which your body will be challenged by a maximal maneuver or force of your particular sport.

One of two things will happen:

1. That body part will be conditioned to handle that force/maneuver.
2. That body part will break down.

Sadly, if it is the latter, it is too late to tell yourself that you should have allowed more time to prepare.

No time machine, and no mulligan.

Not many athletes have regretted being in tip-top shape toward the end of the race or the game. Too often it is the reverse.



Yes.  Things change.

My wife and I never had a honeymoon.  We decided to go to Hawaii for our seventh anniversary.

As I got off the plane, I saw a poster for the Honolulu Marathon, to be held on the day that we were departing. 

I decided that if I did not crash and burn, I could finish the marathon and hopefully make it to the airport in time.

With her permission, I began acclimating to the weather and increasing my mileage.

I was young. I was stupid. Running my first marathon hurt. I got away with it.

Now?  Not so young.  Hopefully not as stupid (yes, debatable).

Still hurts. I could never get away now with what I did decades ago.

I have long thought that life should be the reverse.  Start off old, learn our lessons, and then grow younger while benefiting from those hard-earned lessons.

What happens now is that when we were younger we used to be able to get away with lack of preparation for physical activities so we think that we still can.

Except…we can’t, at least not without paying a price. That price is usually injury.

Thus, I run a race, take a few days off, and then slowly and methodically begin preparing for the next race. I schedule more time between races and use that additional time for preparation.



So what if I do get injured?  I can’t work out.

I gain weight– even if I don’t gain weight it feels as if I am gaining.

I see my conditioning slipping away before my eyes.

Fortunately, I still maintain my usual optimistic spirit (right!). My wife still loves me (maybe not so much). Well, my dog loves me.
(Okay, it takes a few extra treats.)

The key to not getting injured begins with the first paragraph of this article.

Only by planning ahead can you set up a game plan that leaves you enough time to methodically get into condition.

Otherwise you may feel forced to rush your conditioning, and unless you are prepubescent, that does not usually bode well.

Let’s consider running as an example.

If I was planning on a marathon a year from now, I would begin training TODAY. 

Where to begin depends upon your current conditioning. If you ran a 10 K a month ago, and currently have no injuries, I might run five miles on Tuesday and Thursday and seven miles on Saturday.

I then ask myself a question on Saturday toward the end of the seven miles, again on Saturday evening, and again on Sunday: Any injuries? If not, it is safe to gradually build my mileage.

Over time, although I increase my weekday runs, perhaps eventually to eleven miles each, my main focus is upon my long run.

I feel most prepared when I have completed several 24 mile long runs, with my last long run about three weeks prior to race day. Two weeks prior, I might drop down to 20 miles, and down to 14 miles the week prior to race day.

I sprinkle in a few shorter runs during the final week, with my last run about three days prior to the big day. I get in some walks the last few days.

All this is assuming that I have meticulously taken care of equipment concerns along the way. (See my previous articles about running shoes and socks.) My shoes are never too worn, but also never brand new.

The standard philosophy for race day, taught to me by my coaches and their coaches before them, is that on race day, nothing should be new.

You should have run at least a few times in the exact same shoes, socks, shirts, shorts, and even your “undies” that you bring to the starting line. (Always triple knot your laces on race day.)



The astute reader has noticed a problem with the math. The hypothetical runner in this article started with seven miles and built up his or her long runs about a mile each week until reaching 24 miles (which I highly recommend doing on several occasions).

Why, therefore, did I recommend close to a full year to prepare for the marathon?

Several reasons: The hypothetical runner in this article shared with me that she developed minor injuries on three separate occasions. On one occasion she felt the injury was severe enough that she had to stop running completely until she was pain free. (If hypothetical, how do we know it was a female—obviously the male runner would not have been smart enough to stop and allow the injury to heal. Duh!)

On two occasions, due to minor injuries she did not need to stop completely but had to reduce her mileage and then slowly build back up.

The point is that she had enough time built into her schedule to make those adjustments. Thus, on race day she was fully trained and at the starting line rather than watching from the sideline.

Come race day, where would you rather be?


Dr. Goldstein is a podiatrist who is Board certified by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, the American Board of Podiatric Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Society of Podiatric Surgeons. He is a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association and the American Society of Podiatric Sports Medicine. He has run about 34 marathons; if his brain had not bounced up and down so much he could probably remember exactly how many, a problem not usually helped by injuries.

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