Our health and exercise experts answer your questions
Southern Cross University exercise scientist Luke del Vecchio and nutrition expert Holly Muggleston answer questions sent in by keen runners about training, avoiding injury and what to eat while you're training for a marathon or endurance running event. Hosted by student Emily.
Emily: Hey everyone, I'm Emily, studying my Masters in Exercise Physiology at Southern Cross University on the Gold Coast campus.
Today I'll be chatting with some of the health and exercise experts who will be answering all your questions and how best to prepare for your running event.
I'm here at Southern Cross University with Dr Luke Del Vecchio. He is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Luke is an expert in running preparation, injury prevention and recovery.
So, Luke our first question for you today is from Jen from the Gold Coast. Her question is: Hi I'm a beginner runner I'm in my 40s. Can you suggest me some training and diet requirements? I really need some motivation.
Luke: Sure, I think the best thing we can do here is make sure we start gradually and carefully so we don't overdo it. What we don't want to do is you end up injured not being able to do the run at all.
So, in this instance I would highly recommend a graded and graduated program like the ‘Couch to 5k’ for example. Why I recommend this program is simply because it will allow you to slowly but carefully build up your tolerance to running, because if you don't have a plan it's likely you might go out and try and run maybe three or four k's and that might be just too much for your body and you wake up the next day sore. If that keeps happening all you do is get sorer and sorer until you get injured. So, it's really important you have a structured training program that's gradually progressed so it gives you a chance to build up your tolerance slowly and carefully.
Emily: Yep perfect thank you Luke. Our next question is from Chloe from Brisbane – a bit more specific – I'm training for the 10k run. I was wondering what tips you had for reducing knee pain. Would a knee brace be beneficial or not? I have had a few problems with my knees in the past during my runs I feel pain is holding me back. Any advice or tips are best appreciated.
Luke: Well there's a lot in that question. Firstly, if your knee pain is actually getting painful – quite painful – you should go and see a physiotherapist, someone who can actually make a diagnosis on the pain to make sure it's nothing more sinister. But to work around it, again it comes back to a graduated training program. Most people don't follow a graduated training program and without that structure where you slowly but carefully build up the amount of running you do you expose your body to too much flow too quickly. The result is that your tissues like your muscles tendons and ligaments they're not quite ready for all this load and that's why things start to hurt and ache. So, first thing is, get your knee looked at. Second thing is, like I answered before, get a structured training program that gradually progresses the amount of running you're going to do and then thirdly – and probably equally importantly – is make sure you look at your footwear because if your footwear aren't right and your foot isn't landing in the right position that's going to exaggerate the loads all the way back up the body and definitely towards the knee and the hips.
How to keep your running routine over the summer period
Southern Cross University senior lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science Dr Chris Stevens gives expert advice on how to prioritise your running routine despite the heat..
With the festive season behind us, now is a great time to prioritise your running.
Running in the summer when it’s hot can be an obstacle for runners to overcome. Run in the early morning or evening to beat the heat when you can. If the hot weather is unavoidable, reduce the duration and intensity of your run and take cold water to drink and pour on yourself. After a week of running in the heat, you will gain some adaptations that will make you feel more comfortable, and then you can increase your running duration first and then intensity. Take a hat, sunscreen and wear light coloured, loose fitting clothing when running outdoors. If it’s a hot, humid, cloudless and wind-still day be very careful; these are the toughest conditions to run in. If you’re using the treadmill, set up a fan in front of you to help your sweat evaporate and keep you cool.
If you’re in a slump with your running, try mixing up your routine. Run a new route, try a trail run or a beach run. Jumping in the ocean at the end of a hot run is an amazing feeling! If you usually run on your own, organise a friend to run with, or reach out to your local club or coach to join their sessions. If you usually run threshold and long slow distance sessions, try an interval session with repeats of 4-5 min of fast running interspersed with 1-2 min of walking. A bit of variety could help you to find your passion for running again.
If you’re going travelling or taking a break it can be easy to fall out of your running routine. It can be helpful to run at the same time of day no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Tell your family in advance about your running schedule and get their support, and even better, get them running too! Keep your running gear in the car (and a towel) so you’re always ready to go.
Make your running a priority this summer and find your fitness again.
Dr Chris Stevens
Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science
Southern Cross University
My name is Dr Chris Stevens and I'm a senior lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at Southern Cross University.
Runners should be doing three types of training sessions, these include long slow distance sessions where the aim is to be able to run for a long duration at a slow pace without fatigue. These sessions increase the lactate threshold which allows a runner to be able to run at a higher intensity for a longer period without fatigue.
Another type of session that runners should be doing are interval training sessions where the aim is to run faster than usual by alternating periods of fast running with periods of rest. These sessions allow a runner to increase their maximum aerobic running pace so that the race pace is now a lower percentage of the runner's maximum running capacity.
Runners should progress their training over time, this usually means increasing the amount of training that is done each week. For an inexperienced marathon runner it's important to progress a long slow distance session every week as well as the total running duration or the kilometres completed each week.
A useful rule is that the amount of training should not increase by more than 10% per week. Progressing every training session every week would be far too much so runners should pick out only a couple of training sessions to progress in their plan each week.
Pacing is an important consideration for any runner but especially a marathon runner. Often runners will start a race too fast and then they are forced to slow down and run at a slower speed than their potential. The goal for a runner is to try and run at an even pace throughout a marathon.
Less experienced runners should start their race a little bit slower than what feels comfortable and aim to increase their pace in the second half of the run if they can.
My name is Christian Swan I'm a senior lecturer in psychology at Southern Cross University and my research is on the psychology of sport, exercise and physical activity.
So if you're currently preparing for the Gold Coast Marathon psychology is obviously a very very important part of your preparation and your training. One of the things that everyone will probably have coming into the Gold Coast marathon is a goal that they are thinking about trying to achieve.
The research will tell us that certain types of goal are going to be more useful in certain situations than in others so if you're experienced in marathons if you have run them before if you know what you're doing then the typical SMART goal - specific achievable measurable realistic time-bound - those types of goals can be great, it can be really helpful for performance and can help you get more out of yourself on the day.
If this is your first time though a completely different type of goal might be more useful for you and might help you have an enjoyable and much less stressful experience. Research is telling us that more open-ended goals can actually be much more useful instead of setting really specific measurable time bound goals.
Try setting something instead just like to see how well you can do on the day, don't attach a number to it, don't attach at a certain time go out see what you can do based on the training you've done and where you're at on the day. See how you go and then come back and try and do better next time.
So in the days leading up to a big race like the Gold Coast marathon a lot of the top athletes will have a routine that they have prepared and that they will go through in the days before, in the morning of the race to help them feel like they're in control and that they know that everything is in place for when the the race actually starts.
So that will include everything from you know the time that they're waking up, the time that they're having breakfast, they've got all of their plans set out in terms of where they need to be at certain points in time and so from a psychological perspective having routines like that that can really help athletes feel in control, know what they're doing, know that everything's in place and not feel overwhelmed by the occasion that is about to happen.
Training your mind for a marathon with Psychology expert Dr Christian Swann
Half the battle of any physical activity is mental. When it comes to an endurance sport like marathon running, mental preparation can be as important as physical training. Part of this mental preparation for many runners will involve setting goals.
Having a specific time target, like improving a personal best, is a common type of goal for experienced marathon runners but this could be counterproductive for novice runners, says Southern Cross University Senior Lecturer in Psychology Dr Christian Swann. Based at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus. Dr Swann is also an Accredited Exercise Scientist and focuses his research around the psychology of sport and exercise. He has extensively researched elite athletes and exercisers, and how we experience the ‘flow’ state (commonly known as being ‘in the zone’) in these activities.
“The research tells us that for novice runners, setting an open-ended goal can lead to less pressure and actually result in better outcomes for the athlete,” he said. An example of an open-ended goal might be to “see how you well you can do”, based on your physical preparation, without putting a time constraint on your performance. This also opens the way to improving on your time in your next race. “This open-ended goal for first-timers can mean a lot less stress and pressure, so the experience is more enjoyable at the time and you are more motivated to come back and try again,” said Dr Swann.
The combination of psychology and sport is a growing professional specialisation. Southern Cross University offers a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise, a Bachelor of Psychological Science, and an Honours degree in psychology. In addition, the University has recently introduced a combined Bachelor of Exercise Science and Psychological Science degree at the Coffs Harbour campus for those interested in learning about, and combining, both disciplines.
Preparing your feet for a marathon with Podiatry expert Dr Paul Butterworth
If you’re running a marathon, running shoes are the first thing you’ll think about. Dr Paul Butterworth from Southern Cross University shares some tips about putting your best foot forward..
Feet are important, and for a runner, keeping your feet healthy and choosing the right shoes is fundamental. The science of footwear is a highly specialised health discipline, and, luckily for runners about to undertake the Gold Coast marathon, we have expertise right at our doorstep. “Running shoes, like all footwear, have different aspects to them. We refer to it as footwear anatomy. This includes a heel counter, a toe box and the upper of the footwear. All of these aspects of footwear anatomy vary according to the make and model of the shoe, but it’s important to understand what kind of foot you have and how to choose the right footwear for your foot,” says Dr Butterworth, senior lecturer at Southern Cross.
If a runner has a neutral foot (that does not roll inwards or outwards as they run) then a neutral runner will be appropriate. A neutral runner does not have any extra support and lets the foot maintain its neutral position. “But if you have a really flat foot then something with a little more rigidity in the heel counter may be appropriate as this helps the foot to not flatten out too much. Flat feet as we know can cause serious problems such as chronic foot pain, swelling and even pain in the legs and lower back,” says Dr Butterworth.
When deciding what to wear for the marathon, athletes should use common sense, making sure footwear fits and that it doesn’t cause any blisters or irritation. “Blisters are one of the biggest problems we see in runners. You should be wearing in your runners well before the big day – it sounds like the most basic advice but the last thing you should do is arrive on the day with new or nearly new shoes,” said Dr Butterworth.
Podiatry and pedorthics clinics are held regularly at the Southern Cross University Health Clinic on the Gold Coast campus.
I am Dr Paul Butterworth from podiatry and pedorthics here at Southern Cross University and we're here in our manufacturing lab where we deal with footwear and our students deal with footwear on a daily basis.
If you're running the Gold Coast Marathon or the ten kilometre run perhaps footwear is going to be something you'll be thinking about so I'm here to just give you a few basic tips on things to consider prior to your run.
What we have here are some examples of shoes. Now footwear have different aspects to them we often refer to it as footwear anatomy so we have a heel counter, we have a toe box, we have the upper of the footwear and it al varies depending on make and model.
What you should be doing is firstly using a little bit of common sense and making sure that your footwear fits, that it's supportive that it's not causing any blisters or irritation.
You should be using your runners for a period of time prior to the main event to make sure that those things don't happen.
If you have a neutral foot then a neutral runner will be appropriate if you have a really flat foot you may require something with a little more support in the heel counter that gives you some rigidity to prevent your foot flattening out too much because as we know flat feet can cause problems.
At the same time having high arch feet can also cause problems and so making sure that you get the footwear to fit your feet is very important particularly with such a big event coming up.
So go to a good footwear store. I can't recommend one over the other, make sure that your shoes fit and that you're comfortable with them and that you wear them in prior to your event.
Good luck with your event and hopefully your feet survive the ordeal and if you need to see us here we have a student clinic where we can assess any foot problems you might have.
Hi I'm Holly Muggleston. I'm a food and nutrition lecturer in the School of Health and Human Sciences at Southern Cross University.
A few days before the race is the time to actually make sure that you've actually got enough carbohydrate if you're actually consuming. Carbohydrate will get those glycogen stores in your muscles up all right because it's glycogen that's going to fuel your muscle. So you eat a little bit more carbohydrate than you would normally do at the same time. It's really important to increase your hydration or to make sure you're adequately hydrated so the easiest way to do that is to check your urine.
If your urine is clear or a very pale yellow then you know that you're hydrated, if not then you're gonna have to up your intake of fluids. You need to make sure that your breakfast is easy you know fast and you can eat it quickly something that you've consumed in the past so you're not trying anything new because you're not sure how that's going to react in your gut.
You need anywhere between about 400 and 600 mls of fluid before the race. During the race you need to make sure you've got adequate fluid keep in mind if you're well trained if you're a male or you have a very high sweat rate you're gonna need more fluid than someone who runs the race much slower or doesn't sweat very much. All right so the general rule of thumb is anywhere between 400 and 800 mls of fluid per hour when it comes to carbohydrate you need about thirty to sixty grams of carbohydrate per hour.
So what does that look like? 600 mls of sport drink or 300 mls of sports drink and a gel or one to two gels. If you've never had a gel before the race day is not the time to try you really need to try those before.
After the race is a great time to get carbohydrate back into the muscles, have protein to actually repair any sort of muscle tears that you might have had, replace fluid so you can rehydrate and to get those electrolytes back into the system. In terms of fluid you need to replace anywhere from 125 to Now what types of fluids? All fluids are okay except for alcohol okay you may want to celebrate with a beer but if you do, have equal amounts of water with that beer.
Hydration and nutrition: before, during and after the race with food and nutrition expert Holly Muggleston
It’s easy to take hydration and nutrition for granted but these can be fundamental in your preparation, performance and even in your recovery, says Southern Cross University food and nutrition lecturer Holly Muggleston..
Hydration is important before, during and after the race. There are all levels of preparation that go into your marathon training, from your mental preparation to your shoes. It’s easy to take hydration and nutrition for granted but these can be fundamental in your preparation, performance and even in your recovery, says Southern Cross University food and nutrition lecturer Holly Muggleston.
"A few days before the race, you need to pay attention to your carbohydrate stores. These take the form of glycogen in your muscles and this is what will fuel your muscles during the race,” said Ms Muggleston.
“At each meal in the days before the race, you should slightly increase the normal amount of carbohydrate that you consume. This could be with grains, muffins, fruit, potato, legumes, even flavoured milk, anything with starch and sugars – these will increase your glycogen stores”.
As a guide, you need about 400-600ml of fluid before the race to top up your hydration. Drinking too much fluid can cause gastric distress during the race. Likewise, during the race you need to make sure you have the right amount of fluid. “If you are well-prepared, a male and with a high sweat rate, you’ll obviously need more fluid than someone else. About 400-800ml per hour during the race is a good rough guide,” said Ms Muggleston. “This could be water, sports drink or even cola and some people alternate between water and sports drink. Take care not to overdrink – over-hydration can lead to a potentially fatal condition – novice runners can be susceptible,” she added.
Once the race is over, you need to replace about 125-150 percent of the fluid you have lost and protein is necessary to repair any muscle damage your body might have suffered. Whole foods are ideal for a recovery meal – even something as simple as a chicken, cheese and salad sandwich or flat bread and hummus with nuts and fruit juice. “All fluids are fine in recovery except for alcohol. You might like to have a beer to celebrate but if you do, make sure you have an equal amount of water,” cautioned Ms Muggleston.
Breaking the four-hour barrier with Nursing graduate and pace runner Sophie Curnow
Under four hours is a common goal for first-time marathon runners who have trained in anticipation of hitting the pavement on race day.
For Southern Cross University graduate and pace runner Sophie Curnow, the sub-four group in any marathon is the most inspirational and often the most dedicated as they see their marathon dreams turn into reality – some for the first time. After finishing high school in Victoria 12 years ago, Sophie could only dream of the day where she could run six kilometres non-stop. Now the Gold Coast nursing graduate and fitness guru has travelled the world racing in marathons with sponsorship deals, and is a familiar face on the official Gold Coast Marathon poster, leading the running pack while fist-pumping the air.
After seven years of competing Sophie will this year run as the official four-hour pacer for the Gold Coast Marathon. She’ll be wearing black balloons and a pace running outfit signalling to runners to stick with her to achieve their sub-four goal. “My advice for people trying to break the four-hour mark would be to slow down at the start,” Sophie said. “When the gun goes off everyone tends to just go for it because you’re so squished in that you just want your own area, but you’ve just got to enjoy that first kilometre and just take in the atmosphere, then you can assess what pace you want to run and that’s when you find your groove. “It’s a really popular spot being right next to the pacer, because you can mimic their steps – But I’m hoping no-one knocks me over!”
Sophie says that while running is hard work, particularly for people who need to build up fitness, it is worth setting the challenge to run the distance, whether it be 6km or 42km.
I'm Sophie Curnow I've just graduated from Southern Cross University studying nursing and I'm pace running at this year's Gold Coast Marathon.
I've been part of the marathon for six or so years. This year I decided to put my hand up and volunteered to pace so I get to pace the four-hour group. When I first did the marathon I wanted to break four hours I can't imagine pacing a better group of more motivated people than the people who want to do a sub-four marathon.
My advice for people trying to break the four hour mark would be slow down at the start because when the gun goes off everyone just kind of goes for it because you're so squished in you just want your own area but you've just got to enjoy that first kilometre and just take in the atmosphere and then once that first kilometre is finished that's when you can kind of go, okay what pace am I running and what pace do I want to run? And then that's where you find your groove.
It's a really popular spot being right next to the pacer because you get to just mimic their steps but please don't try and push me over! For new runners out there my biggest tip is get serious about your hydration and your fuelling. I think that's probably the most important part because I know for every race that I've done, it gets to 30k and the last thing I want is a drink or to put another gel down but honestly at that 36-37k mark you need it.
Take it before you think you need it and don't skip one and probably plan as well so before your race if you know how long you want to run then go okay at 40 minutes I'm going to take my first gel and at an hour 20 I'll take my next one and just really plan it that way and stick with your plan.
So on race day this year I'm hoping to be able to take a little bit of footage of me pacing and just so everyone can experience the atmosphere that I'll be experiencing on the day.
Check out Southern Cross Uni on Instagram and I'll be uploading some stories after Gold Coast Marathon.
My name is Bimbi Gray I'm a registered osteopath and a clinical academic at Southern Cross University.
All training and competing causes some degree of physiological stress, whether you're running the ten kilometre, the half or the full marathon you may feel this physiological stress has caused some strain or injury to your body.
Osteopaths are government regulated allied health professionals who have extensive knowledge of functional anatomy and biomechanics. People often see osteopaths. for short and long term complaints Common problems that runners may see an osteopath for are neck and lower back pain ankle sprains knee pain shin splints and muscular strains such as hamstring or calf strains.
Osteopaths will review the way your body moves including any restrictions to your range of movement speed agility flexibility and strength for your running. Osteopaths combine the results of multiple clinical tests to develop a working diagnosis and clinical management plan which often involves manual therapy. Manual therapy is a hands-on treatment used to support tissue repair movement and recovery.
Book in to see your local osteopath or the highly trained osteopathic students at the Southern Cross University health clinic to support your healing and recovery following the Gold Coast Marathon.
Recovering from a marathon with Osteopathy expert Bimbi Gray
You’ve trained hard. You prepared yourself both mentally and physically and you gave it your all. But those post-race muscular niggles just won’t go away. What now?
“All training and competing involves some degree of physiological stress. Whether it’s the 10 km run, the half, or the full marathon it’s not unusual to feel like your body has experienced some degree of physiological stress,” said Southern Cross Osteopathy lecturer Bimbi Gray. Osteopaths are registered primary care practitioners and can support healing and recovery for runners. Common complaints osteopaths see from runners are running stitch, neck and lower back pain, ankle sprains, knee pain, shin splints and muscular strain such as hamstring or calf strain.
Osteopathy is an allied health science, involving a system of diagnosis and manual therapy to treat musculoskeletal and other functional disorders of the body. The discipline has its origins in the late 1800s when an American physician developed a system of treatment that looked at the structure and movement of the whole body and how it functions. His aim was to reduce surgery and medication to a minimum, especially in an era when so-called medicinal ‘tonics’ could be more harmful than beneficial.
Thus osteopathic medicine was born. These days, osteopathic medicine has developed into a precise science. “Osteopaths review the way your body moves, including any restrictions to your range of movement and your speed, agility, flexibility and strength when it comes to running,” said Ms Gray.
Southern Cross University offers a four-year combined program of a Bachelor of Clinical Studies (Osteopathic Studies) and Master of Osteopathic Medicine to enable professional registration as an osteopath.
The on-campus health clinics at the Gold Coast and Lismore offer osteopathic services to the general public.