With summer all but here, runners have already started putting in extra hours to train for the marathons of their choice. Extra Mile Fitness in Valparaiso has been helping those runners with their Tuesday Tune Ups, sessions held in their store on Tuesday nights. Offering advice, tips, and support to those training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon (or just marathons in general), the staff has offered prizes to those in attendance and invited special guest speakers to help their curious runners.
Dr. Anthony Levenda of the Lakeshore Bone and Joint Institute was on the scene for the fourth of the five Tuesday Tune Ups, giving advice and answering questions to those who wanted to know how to cross the finish line injury free.
"Ninety percent of running injuries are over use," said Dr. Levenda. "If we didn't run, we wouldn't get any running injuries... It's a great sport and I encourage people to run, plus it's not expensive and you can do it anytime or anywhere in the world. No matter if you're big or small, or healthy or not, you can do some kind of run or walk. But the way to avoid injuries is prevention. One hundred percent of the time it's prevention, from things like stretching or just listening to your body."
Dr. Levenda's primary focus for the night included Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or ITB, and other common running injuries. Much of the information gained that evening came from answers to questions posed by the different runners in attendance. The different problems from the different runners created a framework that provided insight to many of the common problems that runners face when dealing with the different training routines for different runners who work toward different goals. For instance, a runner trying to finish a single marathon might have chosen a different routine than someone who wants to run regularly.
"We have a great running community in Valpo and a tight fitness community, so there's a lot of excitement around Tuesday Tune Ups," said Jen Villarreal, the organizer of the Tuesday Tune Up events. "There's normally 15 to 25 [people] depending on the track events going on... Extra Mile's mission is to keep our community moving, whether your running or walking. We are very focused on helping people to achieve their goals through the healthiest ways possible. Through Tuesday Tune Ups, our goal is to get runners started on the right foot and to cross the finish line injury free. It's really rewarding, and we learn a lot in the process too. There's always stuff to take away from it, even if you're a seasoned runner or someone who talks about running all day long."
That focus on the runners has helped to create an event that can supplement Valparaiso's already exuberant running community. In addition to the questions that fellow runners have asked, at the end of the five-part Tuesday Tune Up event one of the Opportunity Enterprises marathon team will be selected for a donation of two-hundred and fifty dollars to help offset their costs for running.
"It's a lot of good information," said Joe Krowiarz during his second Tune Up event. "I've learned a lot. I'm a new runner, and it's given me a lot of insight into proper form, and hopefully the success of my marathon training.
"I think it's been great," said Todd Hederlong of Extra Mile Fitness. "We've been very fortunate to have a lot of professionals in their field come in and give presentations for us. We've talked about injury prevention for foot injuries, how to eat properly, and our general feedback is that people have gotten a lot of information they didn't know or didn't think about beforehand. Ultimately, the proof is going to be in the pudding when we hear the comments eighteen weeks from now when the marathons are done, but so far a lot of people have been thanking us and saying how they're getting a lot out of it."
While it's true that it might still be too early to know exactly what the runners will be getting out of these sessions, the positive reactions so far have been a good sign. And while four and a half months might seem like a long time, seasoned runners know just how quickly that valuable training time can fly by if someone's not being proactive. Even for those who might not be in a marathon, however, the advice given was good and helpful for avoiding injuries even for beginning runners.
"Just keep running," said Dr. Levenda. "It's a great sport. It has a lot of benefits for your health. But know your limits, and listen to your body. That, plus stretch regularly and make sure you're keeping up with a proper program, and keeping a pair of the proper shoes."