Have you ever wanted to run a marathon? Many cringe at the thought of running any distance, never mind 26.2 miles. For others, running is both a hobby and a way of life. Completing a marathon is sometimes a lofty fitness goal to check off a bucket list. Marathons (and sometimes ultra-marathons) are a regular part of their running routine. More than 500,000 people ran a marathon in the United States in 2016. It’s not a common feat by any means, but marathon running is becoming increasingly popular and is here to stay.
My name is Dr. Owen Speer and I’m a family medicine and primary care sports medicine physician in Hixson, TN. My primary specialty is family medicine. The focus is on primary care of children and adults for wellness, preventive care, chronic medical conditions, and acute illness. I also completed fellowship specialty training in primary care sports medicine. This is added expertise in non-surgical orthopedic care and the care of individuals for sport/exercise related injuries and problems.
I am also a runner myself. I have been running since I was 10 years old, and started competing in middle school cross country. I ran competitive track and cross country in high school and college. I gravitated towards the longer distances pretty early on, and enjoyed working towards running personal best times. I was not a standout athlete, but had dedication to the sport I very much enjoyed. It has been great way to balance the stress of life, enjoy God’s creation, explore new places, push myself beyond the point I think is possible, and be social with other runners. Now, I continue to run regularly on my own and with groups from the Chattanooga Track Club.
This blog is dedicated to health topics related to running as I train for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The race is on October 7, 2018. This will be my 14th marathon, and my first time running Chicago. I am excited for the experience – it’s a flat and fast course - and all of the training that goes into preparing for race day. The more marathons I run, the more I learn. It’s trial and error in training and on race day, that refines that process. A lot of this comes from listening to my body and making adjustments where they are needed. I have yet to start a formal training plan for this race. That will begin about 4 months out from race day.
For anyone looking to start being active it is important to know you are healthy before starting an exercise routine. I would recommend a wellness or preventive exam to get started. Meet with your primary care provider, or find one if you don’t already have one. You should ask for a physical exam and discuss your exercise goals with them. This type of visit will include a review of your current medical state and past medical problems. The doctor may order lab tests or run an EKG. Medications may be needed or changed. You may need a stress test or lung function test to assure your cardiovascular or pulmonary systems are in good condition. If you have an acute or chronic injury, you may be referred to a physical therapist to help accelerate healing of a pain that just won’t go away. You will also likely discuss screening tests and vaccinations that may be needed based on your age and risk factors to keep you healthy in the years ahead.
For those who are already active, whether it’s running or any other form of exercise, the same advice would apply. Regular annual wellness exams keep things on track, even for those who are in the best of shape.
In the months ahead, I plan to write a couple blog entries per month leading up to the race. Next time, I plan on including some tips on a successful training plan and pitfalls to avoid.