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Tips for Running a Happy, Healthy and Injury-Free Race

Tips for Running a Happy, Healthy and Injury-Free Race

By  Carol Stillman PT, DPT

With the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon, this Sunday, I  felt it was essential to provide a few race day suggestions so that the runners in your life can finish the race happy, healthy, and injury-free. 

As a Medical Captain of the marathon for many years, our team of Physical Therapists at Sutton Place Physical Therapy who work with runners, focus on developing good training habits and exercise programs that increase muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance over a long period. The most common injury I saw at our booth at mile 17 (First Avenue at 76th-77th Street)  was very painful knees secondary to inflammation of the Iliotibial band. Make sure that you include ITB (Iliotibial (IT) Band) stretching in preparing for a marathon.

As you prepare for 26.2 miles, I suggest the following: 

Be Mindful

Running is as much mental as it is physical. Be sure to prepare for the long day ahead mentally. Yes, crowds will push you through, but be mindful and focus on your breath during those stressful times.. You have worked very hard to get to this point. Be proud of what you have accomplished.

Start Slow

If you rest adequately before the race, your legs will feel fresh, and you may feel very strong in the beginning. Resist the temptation of starting too fast as it can cause your performance later in the race to fall and increase your risk of injury. Even if you run slower than your marathon pace for the first five miles, you’ll have 21.2 miles to make up the difference.


Your muscles can cramp if they get dehydrated. Drink lots of fluid during the race. 

Foot Care On Sunday, consider using a high-quality pair of socks (or wear an extra pair) to help prevent or minimize blisters. Don’t run in shoes that are worn or have more than 300-500 miles on them, as this may increase your risk of injury. Sunday is not the time to break out a new pair of running shoes. High mileage on brand new shoes can result in blisters. Try logging at least 40-50 miles before running a marathon in new running shoes. Skin Care

Chaffing will occur during your marathon if you don’t take precautions to prevent it. Bodyglide or Vaseline works very well and may be available at various stations along the route. Use liberally on nipples, underarms, and between legs. High-performance outdoor wear, such as Dri-fit and Under Armor, can also be very effective.


IT Band Stretch:

The Iliotibial band  (IT band) stretch with a foam roller is my favorite stretch for marathoners.

Here is how you work on rolling out your IT band with a foam roller. 

Lay onto your side. Keep your right leg mostly straight. Your left leg is just there for support. Start at your hip area, and then roll down toward your knee. If it is uncomfortable, you can diminish the pressure by shifting your weight on the supporting leg.


Stretch your hamstring by leaning forward with your chest over your left leg as far as you can. You want to be able to rest your chest on your left thigh with your arms reaching out on the floor in front of you. You should feel the stretch in your left hip (glutes), right groin area, and adductors.


Stretch your quadriceps by grasping your ankle and pulling your thigh backward


Stretch your groin in the butterfly position


Stretch your calves: in the sprint start position. 

Practice each exercise 3x30 seconds each.

After the Race

Don’t stop! Light walking immediately following the race will help minimize post-race muscle soreness. The same light stretching done pre-race will keep your muscles loose. Most importantly, drink lots of water and eat something. Refuel and rehydrate.

Should you like to pamper yourself with a post-marathon massage, schedule a massage with Ellen Greene at SPPT. Your body will need to rest before your next running adventure. 

To all of our runners, have an easy, safe, and injury-free run. We look forward to cheering you on throughout the race!