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From Couch to 5K with UWC

Before moving to New York City, I was living in Chicago, so I went from one marathon city to another. I completely understand the love for running and how a city bands together in support. It’s not just an “NYC energy” thing on marathon day. The energy is high, the goal is to cross the finish line and it doesn’t matter where you are racing.

As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I have seen numerous runners come through the door seeking help for an injury or simply wanting to stay on top of their game as they train. Some are running for the first time and some don’t know life without it. It doesn’t matter where you are in your running journey. There is always room to level up in whichever skill you want to master. The point is, every marathon runner started somewhere small and worked their way up.


How do you start training for a 5K Marathon?

Make a plan: Whether you are an early bird or night owl, pick a time of day that works best for your schedule and plan to carve out 45 minutes of your time. Thirty of these minutes will be spent alternating in your run/walk program and the remainder of the time with warm-up and cool down.

Sign up! Don’t just test the waters by dabbling in a running app. Register for a local 5k and mark your calendar. Nothing will keep you more accountable than a credit card charge for a race happening in one month.

Use a guided app: In the world of iPhones and airpods, there are a lot of amazing resources if you look closely and do some research. There are so many training apps that are literally called “couch to 5k”…go figure. Choose one that works for you (most of them are free) and take off!

Find a running partner: Besides your phone, find someone to run with. Having an accountability partner is always helpful to motivate you on the days you just aren’t feeling it

What common mistakes do runners make?

Treadmill vs. Outdoor running: This, unfortunately, is a mistake that I made. The race is not on a treadmill, folks. Why was I training on a treadmill then? I didn’t know any better at that time. If you will be running outside, then you need to train outside. Learn the turf, learn the route, learn to run with the wind blowing, cool morning, hot afternoons, rain and/ or shine. Training through the unexpected changes of weather and terrain will make you a stronger runner. That treadmill isn’t going anywhere.

Not pacing yourself: Space the marathon training out. I cannot stress this enough. Perhaps it is because I am competitive with myself so I like to jump ahead, but that can only lead to injuries and pain down the road. The programs are built to help you build stamina and progress with each training session. Create a solid foundation for yourself and then slowly build upon it.

Lack of warm-up: Dynamic warm-ups are important. The operative word here being: dynamic. Standing on your sidewalk and “stretching your hamstring” for a few seconds before jetting off is not going to warm up your muscles. When you are about to partake in a movement, you must begin to warm up those muscles with movement as well. At Urban Wellness Clinic we provide our runners with breathing techniques and core stability exercises that are specific to them, their gait, and main complaint.

Overstretching hamstrings – I’m bringing this up because this is vital during any marathon runners assessment. Should YOU be doing that? Sometimes a tight hamstring is actually weak and/or overshadowing for another major muscle. If this is what we find during your assessment, we will suggest hamstring strengthening exercises along with strength to other posterior chain muscles while also educating you on which muscles should actually be stretched pre-run.

What happens in a movement assessment?

A movement assessment is important whether you are coming in with the intention to run long distances or even sit at a desk all day. At Urban Wellness Clinic your initial intake is 60 minutes. This is done so that you and your practitioner can get a better understanding as to where you are currently. Seeing how the entire body is moving will help drive a specific treatment plan for you. How?

Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA): This screening method allows us to see how your body has compensated overtime to avoid pain. At your initial visit, you will be put through a series of movement patterns that will help us better understand the root cause of your pain and provide us with the details needed to curate an exercise plan just for you.

What do your active ranges of motion look like? Are you someone who is naturally hyperextended into their low back? Perhaps you are a chronic sloucher and that is affecting your run? Or maybe you are hypermobile and need to incorporate a strength program with your running program? Questions like these can be addressed during your SFMA screen.

Gait: We LOVE watching gait at UWC! Gait is just a fancy term for walking, but it tells us so much. From head to toe, we can get a better idea as to how your compensations have become a functional part of your life. So ingrained that you may not even notice how your left shoulder hikes up, or how your right foot splays out more than the left. Maybe your oblique core muscles aren’t firing and that is due to a tight thoraco-lumbar junction?

The body is great at making subtle changes to help either stay away from pain or fit into your 9-5. Your practitioner’s sharp eyes will help shed light on these changes that can and should be fixed!

Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT): This muscle testing method allows your practitioner to better understand your movement patterns. Which muscles are overshadowing others and creating compensations patterns?

A common pattern we find is overstretched hamstrings. Perhaps that is a stretch you should avoid and perhaps it’s driving your current pain. An overworking hamstring that feels “tight” can actually be overworking for your glutes. Compensations such as these can cause problems down the road since the proper strength vs. stretch regiment has not been locked down. This method is a great way to find out if your warm-up should not include a hamstring stretch, but rather a quad stretch.

These three methods can help you improve your running game. Cleaning up your gait and overall compensations will help better your running ergonomics and provide you with a pain-free jump start.

What does a couch to 5K Marathon program look like?Beginner 5K Training Pan

It’s all about weaning your way into a 3-mile run. The best way to go about this is to alternate between running and walking. At first, you will walk more than run. For example, your first go-around could be alternating between walking for 4 minutes and running for 1 minute. As you continue, you will find that you are running longer than you are walking.

Here is a great 6-week marathon training program example that also incorporates…drum roll please… strength training!

Yes, that seems rather easy, BUT jumping into the middle of the program won’t be helpful either. Slowly build up your stamina and continue to work on stretching and strengthening along the way. As simple as a program may seem, taking it slowly will help you get to the finish line in one piece and injury-free.

How else can Urban Wellness Clinic Help Runners?

Functional Training: One of the reasons I like the training program above is because it actually asks for you to incorporate strength workouts. But, if you’re just starting out with running, then how do you know what to do for strength as well? This is where we come in. Based on your initial visit, we will help you recognize what you should be doing. This can include anything from proper breathing techniques to build core strength, push and pulls moves for upper body stability, and how to deadlift and squat so that you are working on the muscles that help propel you forward during your run.

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS): The central belief at Urban Wellness Clinic is that our stability comes from the deep core muscles. No matter what you are setting out to do, it cannot be done without the middle of the body functioning properly. We help our runners build intra-abdominal pressure, breath right with the use of their diaphragm and get their deep core muscles firing so that everything else they do can be done better and without pain.

Rock Tape: Rock tape is a great way to provide neurological feedback to the body between your visits or just before your run. This sport tape technique is made to work with athletes and comprises of ridges that are in contact with your skin. This is also known as tactile cueing. Sometimes, tape can be used to help you maintain the corrections made during a visit, help turn a muscle “on” or inhibit it or provide stability.

Common examples include: tape for posture, stabilizing an ankle, or preventing the knee from diving medially during gait. This will be determined by your practitioner as they know how to tape for various muscle groups, conditions and the ultimate end goal for said muscle. It is an easy way to aid in your run while also continuing to help you progress your treatment between visits.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Monisha Mallik