If you are one of the tens of thousands of Canadians who are planning to lace up their running shoes and participate in a charitable walk or run this year, be sure to do some pre-event preparation. Walk and run-a-thons can be beneficial for both participants and charities, but whether you are registered for a 10-kilometre walk or a grueling marathon, if you don’t prepare appropriately your good intentions may result in a painful injury.
Preparation for a charitable run or walk needs to be done on two levels, with training and equipment. And the two levels are intertwined. If you train hard in the wrong equipment, or wear the right equipment but don’t train sufficiently, injuries may result. Common injuries include:

  • Repetitive stress injuries to the joints and muscles
  • Plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Blisters, corns, calluses

Although the amount of pre-event training required will vary significantly based on the length and type of your event, to prevent injuries, all events will require some level of training. Begin by reading the training recommendations on the charity’s website. If it is the first time you have participated in a run or a lengthy walk, it is advisable to get some professional advice, either by joining a local running or walking program, or by purchasing a training handbook.
The primary equipment for running and walking is footwear, and wearing appropriate athletic shoes for both training and the event day is essential.  Whether you are participating in a 5-kilometre fun run or a lengthy, endurance run, you should wear shoes that are designed for running. Equally important is replacing your shoes after 600 to 700 kilometres of training. For optimal injury prevention, you will have different shoes for walking and running. Footwear for walking should provide cushioning, breathability, and stability vs. running shoes which absorb shock and propel you forward.
If you experience lower limb pain when you are wearing appropriate footwear, do not assume it is normal or ignore it. Book an appointment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist to see if a foot orthotic or another treatment may help.
By Alison Smith, C. Ped Tech (C), C. Ped (C), Moncton, New Brunswick