There are less than 40 days left to the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 7, considered one of the premiere half-marathons in the U.S. This is the 40th running of the race, which has become part of the magnificent tradition surrounding the Indianapolis 500.

If you’re planning to run in the Mini-Marathon, there are important things to keep in mind as you train. Whether you’re a first-timer or a marathon veteran, it’s important to treat your body right so you can enjoy a safe and successful race at any speed.

Drs. Jonathan Smerek and David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine, both fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons specializing in foot & ankle issues, point out that each foot has 28 bones and more than 30 joints with tough bands of ligaments to hold them in place and allow the foot to move up, down, in and out.

Their shock-absorbing properties are miraculous, but are not impervious to injury. This can include tendinitis, sprains, stress fractures, neuromas, bunions, hammertoes, arthritis and plantar fasciitis.

That’s why it’s important to select comfortable, properly fitting shoes – especially for competitive running. Always warm up before exercise, and cool down afterward, including stretching. You also want to keep feet dry to avoid friction, which leads to corns and calluses.

Other helpful tips in preparing for a half-marathon:

  • Don’t use anything new on race day. You want your shoes, socks and clothing broken in before the marathon. Train and complete your long runs in the same gear you’re going to wear on marathon day.
  • Drink on the run. Try to use the same sports drink/energy gels that will be used during the race when you train. Find out how long the intervals are between aid stations, what they offer, and practice drinking at that rate.
  • Don’t run before the race. You want your body fully rested and healed up. Your conditioning won’t suffer if you skip a day or two of running leading up to the race.
  • Eat, and eat/drink the right way before and during the race. Unlike shorter races, a half-marathon presents a challenge to your fuel reserves. In the morning, your blood glucose is at its lowest level because it’s probably been eight to 12 hours since you’ve eaten. Fuel up, but eat at least one hour prior to the race. It’s also OK to eat during the race. Drink plenty of water and electrolyte solutions while you’re on the run, too.

Here’s to a safe, happy and healthful run!

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