Run, walk, crawl across the finish line with injury prevention tips

Thousands of runners will lace up their shoes and place their toes on the starting line at the 2019 Illinois Marathon with their minds set on crossing the finish line, the agony of training behind them.

For Mahomet’s Megan Vogel, her mind will be on the people she supports at Carle Cancer Center as a nurse practitioner. A conversation with a patient about the struggles of carrying out the simplest tasks in life prompted her new running passion.

“Some people would give anything to walk to the bathroom on their own or sit up in a chair. The simplest tasks can cause the substantial fatigue,” she said.

So, she got on her treadmill and ran – for those patients and herself.

Finding ways to stay motivated and accomplish their goals is healthy. Carle Sports Medicine physician Jerrad Zimmerman offers some tips to help enthusiastic runners avoid race-day injuries. For assistance in your trainings plans, call (217) 383-9400.

While some pain is understandable with an endurance run, don’t ignore dehydration and exhaustion. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, stomachache, back pain, headache, irritability and decreased urination. 

Preparing for her first half-marathon, Vogel did her research. She used apps and training guides to stay focused and injury-free. She even snapped “sweaty selfies” to monitor her progress. But pitfalls remain.

“After 7 miles my feet hurt, and with a busy schedule, it’s hard to get the miles in. I’m anxious and excited but realizing I might actually be able to pull this off,” she said.

When she does, though, she may see some familiar faces at the finish line.

Carle volunteers help staff the Finish Line tent providing aid to runners. The most common ailments are strains and sprains.

“It’s OK to test your physical and mental limits,” Dr. Zimmerman said, “but listening to your body and training helps you avoid injuries. But if needed, we’re on site to provide assessment and care.”

Champaign’s Tom Bishop understands the importance of giving your body time to heal. Just two weeks after his second cataract surgery, he plans to walk Carle’s Shake the Lake and then in a few more weeks, he’ll tackle the mini I-Challenge (a 5K followed by a 10K).

“I typically take 15,000 steps during a shift working at Carle, so I’m used to walking a lot, but following Dr. (George) Panagakas’s advice, I’m taking some time off to rest my eyes before resuming my training,” Bishop said.

With his feet well prepared, Bishop doesn’t anticipate injuries, but many long-distance runners face blisters, black toenails and minor skin chafing.

“Keep your feet and thighs dry, or use petroleum jelly,” Dr. Zimmerman said.

Bishop is approaching his eye recovery the same way he does his running training – one letter at a time, one mile at a time.

“’See’ you at the finish line,” he said, the pun intended.