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MUSC Health Blog

Keyword: running

Guest post by:
Kathleen Choate
Certified Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

What Do I Do Now to Prepare?

You've been running several times a week, have an outfit picked out and you know you can finish the 6.2 mile run. With two weeks to go, what else is left to do to prepare?


Consider tapering your training program. If you are new to this, the idea of scaling back on your training may feel like the opposite of what you should be doing. Try to remember that more isn't always better. In fact, pushing yourself too hard the last week or two before the race could lead to overtraining and a decrease in your performance. If you approach these last two weeks of Group of runnerstraining the right way, you could decrease your fatigue and see improvements in your performance.*

Progressive tapering does not involve extra rest days, but rather a ten to fifteen percent reduction in training volume. While this volume is reduced, plan to keep the intensity and frequency of your workouts the same. Tapering these last couple weeks will allow your body to recover and your performance to peak on race day!


While trying to decide on what outfit to wear for the run, the most important piece of equipment for a runner to buy is shoes. A poor pair of shoes doesn’t just affect your feet. They can throw off the alignment of your entire body. The wrong pair can lead to common injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, runner’s knee, back pain and even fractures. Make sure the shoes on your feet at the starting line also fall in line with the below guidelines.

  • The cushioning in shoes break down over time. The general rule of thumb is to replace shoes every 300 to 500 miles.
  • Shoes should be comfortable; if you feel like they need to be "broken in," then they are not the right shoe for you.
  • Do the shoes fit? If your toes go all the way to the end of the shoe, then no, they don't fit. That portion of the shoe where your toes go in the shoe is called the toe box. There should be about a half to three quarters of an inch between the end of your toes and the end of that space in the shoe. With your shoe on, try pulling your toes up into the air, so it's easier to find the end of your toes, then push down with the tip of your thumb. There should be a section at the end of the shoe where your thumb is not pushing down on your longest toe.

The specific brand/type of shoe will vary from person to person. Your weight, foot width, arches, etc. all affect what specific shoe is best for you. Consider going to a running store that can recommend a shoe based on an evaluation of your foot.

Lastly, don't make race day the very first day you are running in shoes. Wear them while you train these last two weeks or alternate between your new pair and the old pair.

With a new pair of shoes and a good training program, you should be in a great position to tackle the bridge!

*Mujika, Inigo, and Sabino Padilla. "Scientific bases for precompetition tapering strategies." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 35.7 (2003): 1182-1187.

Guest Post by:
Stephanie Davey, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

Good News!  The Cooper River Bridge Run is only six weeks away. So if you’ve started your training, the end is near. If you haven’t started, there is still time! The first thing, after deciding to sign up for the race, is to set a finishing goal. The goal will help you to focus your training to enhance performance and prevent injuries.

If this is your first race and you haven’t been running, your main goal should be finishing. Beginning with a walk/run program will help minimize your injuries and help keep you motivated. Aim to run four to five days per week. Your runs should last 30 to 60 minutes with your longest training run being around five miles. The ratio of walking to running depends on your level of fitness. A good place to start is 1 minute running:1 minute walking. As you progress, increase your running by a minute or two every few runs.runners on the beach

In addition to your training runs, you also need to incorporate cross training, strength training and rest days. Cross training should be a low impact activity such as cycling, swimming or training on an elliptical. Your cross training should last at least an hour. It will help increase your cardiovascular endurance without the additional wear and tear on your body. This will also keep your legs fresher and increase your performance on your runs. Strength training should be a balanced program that incorporates your upper and lower body and your core. Squats, lunges, calf raises, planks and push ups are good exercises to start with. Focus on higher repetitions and lower weight where you can maintain correct form. If you’ve previously done yoga or Pilates, feel free to continue. Both could be used as strength or cross training. Lastly, you should have at least one rest day. Rest days allow your body to heal from the wear of training. If you don’t give your body a chance to heal, you risk an injury. If you feel you need to do something on your rest day, try going for a walk or gently stretching.

Good luck and most importantly "Have Fun!"

Guest Post by:
Katie Bracken, ATC, PES
Medical University of South Carolina
Sports Medicine Department

Summer isn’t a time to relax and sit in front of the TV!!...It’s the perfect time to condition, increase your fitness level and make your muscles bigger! Some relaxation can occur…of course at the beach, but make the most of your summer schedule and free time! Whether you play fall, winter or spring sports, it’s important to try to maintain your level of fitness for many reasons.Man in squat position

  1. It is easier to transition from off-season to in-season. It makes more sense for people to condition/train through the whole year/pre-season, right? BUT most athletes don’t…unfortunately most get lazy and comfy on the couch. Once the season starts, athletes who train pre-season will transition WAY more easily, be in better shape and be more prepared for the demands of the sport versus those who do not train. Athletes who train continuously will also be able to progress quicker into the sport specific workouts, conditioning and sport skills.
  2. Another huge reason to train during pre-season is injury prevention. If athletes jump right into conditioning, weight training and/or sport specific skills (like most) they put themselves at a higher risk for injuries to occur. Once an injury occurs and depending on the severity, the athlete could be out days, weeks or months. The more training an athlete can do to better prepare his/her joints/muscles and overall fitness, the chances of them being injured in-season are less likely. Another key injury prevention tip is: train for your sport. You don’t want track athletes completing volleyball exercises. Make sure to train for your specific use of upper extremity/lower extremity movements. For example: soccer: lower extremity and conditioning, volleyball: lower/upper extremity (focus is on the shoulder), football: upper/lower extremity and power movements, softball: upper extremity, power/sprint conditioning. It is also important to implement a proper warm-up and cool down. Again, it is better for the athlete to prepare ahead of time than to sit out a duration of time or the whole season.
  3. Just because you may not have access to a gym or gym equipment doesn’t mean you can’t get moving! Motivation and determination is all that is needed for a great workout! Like mentioned above, depending on the sport (or multiple) will determine the area/body part to focus on. Also note that many sports overlap in certain types of training, i.e., conditioning is great for all sports! A simple upper body circuit will activate the proper muscles used in upper extremity sports: push-ups, shoulder taps and dips (many variations) at 3 sets for 10 repetitions/movement. You may also add in certain rest periods: 3 sets for 10 with a 20 second rest in between movements to keep the heart rate elevated. For lower extremity sports, a circuit that involves squats, lunges, and squat jumps will activate the glutes, hamstrings and quads to prevent injury and build strength. A tabata workout is a type of H.I.I.T.  (high intensity interval training) workout designed to increase your heart rate throughout the circuit while completing specific movements. Another form of equipment free conditioning: RUNNING! Again, depending on your specific sport will determine which type of conditioning you should be training for, aerobic versus anaerobic. (A common topic that is typically overlooked is flexibility. It is important to incorporate flexibility training into workouts and conditioning especially when the muscles will be activated and stressed more during in-season competition.)
  4. The dreaded word…CONDITIONING or as most people see it…RUNNING! Conditioning has many benefits but it is also used in almost every sport…no reason not to run! Along with strength training, conditioning can be sport specific and will determine which type you should train for: aerobic or anaerobic, i.e., power/speed or endurance. Athletes may also feel the need to go from power sprints to endurance running. Besides training for a specific sport, running has many added health benefits: deceased blood pressure, decreased resting heart rate and increased weight only name a few.  

For the reasons stated above and many more, out-of-season and pre-season training is more beneficial versus no training. Your body and mind will be more prepared for the upcoming season and be able to meet the demands needed. Do your body a favor and don’t be lazy, you will never regret a workout!

Guest Post by:
Stephanie Davey, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
MUSC Sports Medicine

Congratulations….you’ve made the decision to sign up for the Cooper River Bridge Run.  If it’s your first 10 K or you’ve run in all 39 Bridge Runs, it’s a big commitment.  Hopefully by now, you’ve started your training and you might have felt a few aches and pains.  There are a few tricks and tools that can help alleviate the injuries that can slow you down.


The great thing about running is that it doesn’t take much equipment.  Finding the right shoes is probably the most important thing to do before you start.  The wrong pair of shoes can cause foot, shin, knee, hip, and back pain.  Visit your local running store and talk to a qualified sale person.  They should analyze your feet and running mechanics and then suggest the correct shoe for you.  The most expensive or prettiest shoe is not necessarily the best for you.  Also, pay attention to the wear on your shoes.  You need to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles.

Foam Roller

You may have seen professional athletes rolling over a log like piece of hard foam.  Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release that can help relieve tight muscles and increase mobility and flexibility.  Increased mobility and flexibility will aid in preventing injuries. Foam rolling can take some coordination but aim to work on each body part for 45-60 seconds.  Roll your calves, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, IT bands, and back.  This can be done at any time, but is especially beneficial after your runs.


Unless it’s a hot and humid Charleston day, the thought of icing is not particularly appealing.  Unfortunately, icing can be the best way to relieve your pain after a run.  Icing can reduce inflammation, decrease muscle spasm, and help control pain.  There are a few effective ways to ice.  For the very brave and those looking to ice multiple body parts, the ice bath is the most effective.  Fill your bath tub with cold water and ice.  The temperature should be 50-60 degrees.  Sit in your tub for 10-15 minutes.  For small areas such as the bottom of your foot and your shins, ice massage is particularly effective.  Fill a paper cup with water and freeze it.  When it’s completely frozen through, tear the edges of the cup away and massage the treatment area.  This can be done for 5-7 minutes.  If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, you can also use a frozen bottle of water and roll your foot over it.

And don't forget MUSC offers a full range of care through the Sports Medicine Department should you have more troublesome problems with your athletic pursuits.

Guest Post by:

Lindsey Clarke, MS, ATC, CMT
Athletic Trainer;  Massage Therapist Charleston Battery
MUSC Sports Medicine

It’s that time of year again…no, not yard work or taxes, but time for the 38th annual Cooper River Bridge Run.  People from all over the world flock to this event to enjoy the beautiful views of Charleston, participate in a world class distance running event, and spend the better part of the day with 40,000 of their closest friends.  There is A LOT going on for this race…many uncontrollable variables that just make shake the most seasoned runner.  Paying attention to your nutrition is the one variable that day you will have complete control of.  Running a race takes preparation, strength, and energy, and how you approach your pre-race eating plan can affect all three. Throughout training, your diet plays a significant role in helping you perform and recover. In the weeks leading up to the race and immediately before the event, a correctly balanced pre-race nutrition plan will contribute towards your best performance.  If you are a professional, world class runner, or just decided to get in on the action and signed up last week, here are a few tips on giving yourself everything your body needs to have a successful and enjoyable race.

WEEK PRIOR: Moderate quantities of carbohydrate-rich foods will fill your glycogen stores throughout the week leading up to the race. Depending on the length of your race, shoot for about 3-5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day, with foods like oatmeal, potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. For example, a 150-pound adult would need at least 450 grams of carbohydrates per day. Many runners focus so much on getting enough carbohydrates that they don't pay enough attention to their protein consumption. Protein is used for some energy, but mostly in repair of tissue damaged during training. Again, depending on your training/length of race, you should consume .5 to .75 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  Good sources of protein are fish, lean meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, egg whites, low-fat milk, low-fat cheese and some vegetables.  Being a long distance race, you’ll want to aim for the higher amount of carbohydrate and protein per pound body weight.  This is the time to experiment with discovering which foods work best for you, and which foods you want to avoid…experimenting on race day is never a good idea!

DAY BEFORE: Many beginning runners hear that “carbo-loading” before a race is a good idea and mistakenly overindulge on enormous portions of carbohydrate-rich foods. Gone are the days of indulging in stacks of pancakes or sitting down to an all-you-can-eat pasta bowl.  Instead, continue eating as you have in the week leading up to the race, increasing your intake of up to 5.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight; a 150-pound adult would need up to 825 grams of carbohydrates. Foods with a moderate to high glycemic index are your best choices before a race. Eat foods like whole-wheat pastas, which contain 40 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per dry cup serving, and vegetables.

MORNING OF:   As a 10K(6.2m), this race is considered a long distance race.  For longer races, your body will require more fuel.  With an 8am start, a more substantial meal is warranted approximately 2 hours prior to start, so set that alarm just a little extra early.  In addition to your meal, it is good practice to have a light snack 1 hour prior to the race. While it may be tempting to run into the Duncan Donuts on Coleman Avenue while waiting for your heat’s start time, bring a granola bar, energy chews, GU, etc. as a option for more sustained energy release and a lower possibility for GI distress.

In making food choices, it’s always best to stick with what you know works. No one wants any surprises waiting in cue or during your run!  A well-rounded diet of lean meats, legumes, dairy, fruits, and vegetables is a great way to set your self up for success come race day. Some foods to include in race preparation are:

*Whole grain pastas, brown rice     *Lean proteins; salmon, chicken

*Fresh fruit          *Fruit/Vegetable juice                   *Oatmeal

*Bagels                  *Yoghurt drizzled with honey       *Toast with nut butter

Some foods to avoid in race preparation are:

*Cruciferous vegetables; broccoli, cauliflower     *Sugar-free items/artificial sweeteners

*Bran; cereals, muffins     *Caffeine(unless you regularly consume)

*Fried foods     *fatty meats/high fat cheeses     *alcohol

Another extremely important and often forgotten about component of pre-race preparation is proper hydration practices. Many runners underestimate how much fluid they actually lose during their runs and don't drink enough while they're running as well as post workout/race. The result? Dehydration. This is detrimental to performance and dangerous for your health. In the days leading up to your race, you’ll know you’re properly hydrated if you void a fairly large volume of pale urine at least six times a day. On the day of, drink 8-16oz. of water one to two hours before the race, and then another 4-8oz just before. Consumption will vary depending on the length of your race.


Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is usually fine. For a tougher runs over 30 minutes, consider a sports drink to replace electrolytes and glycogen.

Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. A sports drink with carbohydrates and electrolytes will replenish sodium.

Three to six ounces of sports drink every 15 minutes, after which use thirst as your main guide (drinking more if you're thirsty and less if you're not).

Replace fluids, drinking enough so you have to use the bathroom within 60 to 90 minutes after your run(approximately 8-24oz).

Whether you cruised effortlessly across or stumbled through and promptly found a nice patch of grass to flop down on in Marion Square, you’ve finally made it across the finish line!  So what comes next? Post race practices are very important in regards to recovery. Replacing fluids lost and replenishing glycogen stores are crucial and the window of opportunity is small.  It is best to consume a recovery ‘meal’ within the first 30 minutes after completion of the run. The optimum ratio is 3:1 carbohydrates to protein.  Depending on your preference, this meal can take the form of nutrition bars, recovery sports drinks, or even chocolate milk.   There are numerous sponsors that provide fantastic goodies such as yoghurt, peanut butter crackers, bananas, oranges, and more for all runners, so there is certainly no excuse in consuming your post-race snack and replenishing fluids lost.  For longer runs, you should also take in a full meal within 2 hours of completing your race that contains lean proteins, carbohydrates, and maybe even a post-race treat…you deserve it!  This attention to detail in your meals leading up to your race will definitely take a bit of planning, but getting the proper nutrition for pre and post race will not only help your performance and recovery, but will make the experience over all much more enjoyable and successful!


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