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Overcoming Training Obstacles


By Tom Wilson

Preparing for an event such as the Daniel Plan Fun Walk & Run can and should be fun, but it can also take a toll on the body. This is especially true in the early stages of training as the body is adjusting to the new stresses you've subjected it to. Obstacles such as blisters, shin splints, sore knees or back and hip pain often show up as you start pushing your training limits. Even experienced runners fall prey to similar problems, so don't allow these types of minor setbacks to keep you from participating in the event.

In this article I'm going to address some of the common problems associated with preparing for this type of event and provide simple solutions to get you back on track as quickly as possible.

Proper Shoe Selection

Before I get into the actual problems, know that selecting the proper foot support can often eliminate any leg, hip or back problems you may have. The best advice I can give you is to visit your local running store and talk with the experts. Bring your current workout shoes with you as they can evaluate the wear on the shoe and determine your particular foot structure. The most common types are flat feet, high arches, neutral, over-pronators and supinators. I couldn't begin to recommend the right shoe for you without analyzing all these factors along with actually watching you walk or run. But, the following tips apply to all types of feet:

  • Your feet swell throughout the day, so a late-day fitting will usually provide the best fit.
  • Measure your foot while standing.
  • Try on both shoes with the actual socks you will wear during training.
  • Feet are rarely the same exact size so be sure to buy for the larger foot.
  • Choose shoes that are comfortable immediately. If they hurt in the store, don't buy them.
  • Price isn't always an indicator of quality. The moderately priced shoe often works just as well as the expensive one.
  • Make sure the shoe matches your foot type and running style.
  • Break new shoes in around the house before using them on short runs.

Blisters

Blisters are generally caused by excess friction between the shoe and the skin. To treat a blister, simply drain the fluid while leaving the overlying skin intact. Here's how:

  • Clean your hands and the blister thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Swab the blister with iodine or rubbing alcohol.
  • Sterilize a clean, sharp needle by wiping it with rubbing alcohol.
  • Use the needle to poke a small hole near the blister's edge. Let the fluid drain, but leave the overlying skin in place.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment to the blister and cover with a bandage or gauze pad.

Shin Splints

If you're experiencing pain in the front part of your lower leg, it's most likely shin splints. This can be a nagging injury and should not be neglected or the pain will only worsen. Shin splints are usually a result of over-training or doing too much too soon in your training. A tight achilles tendon or weak ankle muscles can also play a role in the development of this injury. To treat this injury, follow the steps below:

  • Take a week off from your running or walking routine. Continue workouts on a stationary bike or running in a pool to maintain your cardiovascular fitness.
  • Apply ice packs to reduce inflammation.
  • Take an over the counter anti-inflammatory medication. Consult your physician for the anti-inflammatory that's best for you.
  • Wrapping an ace bandage around the painful area will help reduce discomfort.
  • Stretch the calf muscle 3-4 times per day and always prior to any training session.
  • Proper shoe selection is critical. If pain persists, shoe inserts (orthotics) may be necessary.

Sore Knees

Pain in the knees can be a result of many factors. If you have structural problems to begin with, stick with walking. The pounding of running will only worsen the problem. But in many cases, pain can be eliminated through simple strengthening exercises. You need to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles that support the knee. Below are three exercises which can be done at home with or without weights. Ankle weights can be attached for the leg extension and leg curl to enhance the strengthening process.

Back and Hip Pain

Stresses placed on the back and hip when walking or running can lead to pain over time. The ironic thing is these activities are also two of the best things you can functionally do to prevent pain in these areas! But as I've stated in previous articles, before you have function, you have to have structure. This simply means it's important to have a base of strength before beginning any activity. I would strongly recommend you get dedicated to a daily stretching and abdominal strengthening program. Review the stretching and core training videos from weeks 6 and 8 posted on the Daniel Plan website. Then add the three basic exercises listed above and you should be prepared to continue your pain-free training for the Daniel Plan Fun Walk & Run event.