Marathon Training 101

Making race day a success

Perhaps it’s the excitement of Derby that attracts so many people to the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/miniMarathon every April. Or maybe it’s a growing interest in staying fit, coping with stress or finding purpose. Whatever the reason, each year more and more people are interested in participating in Louisville’s annual running events.

If you are considering running in this year’s marathon or another race, January officially kicks off training season.

“Runners of all fitness levels need to be sure they train safely while also enjoying their time preparing for the race,” said Jeffrey Stephenson, M.D., a family medicine physician who specializes in sports medicine.

Dr. Stephenson offers these important tips to get started:

  • If this is your first race, develop a training plan that is compatible with your goal and current fitness level.
  • Buy a good pair of running shoes. Go to a local sports shoe store that has knowledgeable staff who can help you find the right pair.
  • Always consult your physician before beginning any new exercise routine.

“Before each run, stretch at least 5 minues,” Dr. Stephenson said. “As you begin running, increase your speed and distance slowly.”

Proper nutrition and hydration are key in achieving optimal athletic performance – not just on race day, but every day.

“By consuming the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, you can make the most of training,” Dr. Stephenson said.

“These will allow your body to produce energy most efficiently, thus enabling it to endure the 13.1 or 26.2 miles you are training for.”

After running, stretch again to prevent tight muscles and injuries.

“Most running injuries are caused by preventable factors. Improper training is the most commo source of injury, particularly inadequate warm-up, a sudden increase in training and insufficient rest between training sessions,” Dr. Stephenson said.

Want to know more?

Norton Sports Health is the official medical and training provider for the 2013 Derby Festival Marathon/miniMarathon. Norton Sports Health is offering a comprehensive training manual for all levels of runners and run/walkers along with weekly group runs to prepare you for the big day. The manual is available to download from


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