Train to Run Safely

Each of us could put a little more activity into our life, and it’s important to find the sport that’s right for us. Some people like to walk, play basketball, golf or run. Whichever activity you choose, it is a good idea to educate yourself about the sport. All sports require a gradual approach, warm-up exercises, good nutrition and proper hydration to enable you to perform at your best and prevent injury.

Running clubs, marathon running and Ironman competitions have increased in popularity over the past several years, and, believe it or not, the Miami Marathon is just over six months away. If you are planning to take the plunge and go the distance ─ either 13.1 or 26.2 miles ─ now is the time to start training.

“Appropriate training is essential to good musculoskeletal health and running performance,” said Christopher Hodgkins, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and foot and ankle specialist with Doctors Hospital’s Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine and a member of the Baptist Health Medical Group. “A majority of the injuries that occur are due to running too far and too often, poor flexibility and lack of strength.”

Dr. Hodgkins adds that “All exercise programs require some sort of warm-up and training routine to help prevent injury,” and suggests the following:

  • If you’re new to running, find a buddy to run with or join a run club.
  • Proper-fitting shoes provide stability and are essential to preventing injury. It’s worth the time and expense to have your feet and gait assessed at a professional running store before buying shoes.
  • Keep a log of your running to monitor your progress, make notes regarding great workouts as well as bad ones and be sure to track the mileage on your shoes. They’ll need to be replaced every 300-500 miles.
  • Always start with at least five minutes of warming up. This can be either walking or light jogging. And build your mileage slowly,  increasing by no more than 10% per week. Many injuries occur because people start out too fast.
  • Learn how to measure your “sweat rate,” the new buzzword in athletic circles. Sweat rate is based on the amount of liquid your body loses after an hour of exercise. By calculating your sweat rate, you can better evaluate what you should drink to replace lost fluid and help avoid injuries.
  • Do strength and cross training to prevent muscle imbalances and increase strength to enhance your performance and prevent injuries.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a day off, or run only every other day. Overtraining is too often a culprit in the injury cycle.
  • If you experience any pain during your training, stop, hydrate and massage. If your pain does not go away in a few days, seek medical attention.

To learn more about how to train safely and effectively, and to minimize injuries, attend one of the Baptist Health running seminars. For more information, call 786-596-2712 or email

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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