From Multisport Magazine article written by Shoes Feet Gear Brisbane podiatrist Peter Charles.

Question:

Do you have any tips for stepping up to the half ironman distance for the first time?

Here are my top 3 tips to give yourself the best chance of achieving your next goal.

Sort out your baggage.

The first priority is to get any known lower limb injuries, complaints or niggles assessed and sorted quickly. Old problems or the subtle signs of new problems will always be an issue when increasing your training program. These issues shouldn’t deter you; just make sure that they are being managed in the best possible ways.

Find the right gear.

Make sure that your foot gear is set up to suit your individual anatomy, mechanics, run technique and they should also suit the type of training and racing you will be doing. Get the right shoes for training and race, invest in some premium socks and make sure any issues with existing or old orthotics are sorted. Check how many miles each of these things have done and replace them before your training starts ramping up. Replace shoes every 700 to 1000km (six to nine months for lighter training) and orthotics should be checked annually.

Toughen up.

Prepare your feet. There has been some very recent evidence that suggests that the small muscles of your feet play a more important role in maintaining foot function with exercise than what we initially thought. We also know that as the large muscles of the legs become more fatigued (and they will in a half!) the smaller muscle groups have to work harder to compensate and risk injury.

Strengthening the foot muscles with picking up a towel with your toes and building the lower leg muscles with calf raises can be good to target these muscle groups. However, most lower limb strengthening programs are more effective if they involve multiple joints and muscle groups in more real life and dynamic situations.

Some better (and more fun!) ways to build strength could include introducing some trail running mid week, throwing in some sort of cross training (dynamic sports such as touch, netball, etc) or introducing a more flexible and unstable straining shoe similar to the Nike free concept. The idea of the uneven surfaces, dynamic movement and unstable shoes are to make these intrinsic muscles of the foot, the ankle stabilisers and other lower limb muscles work harder.

Like any new training program, start gradually! Start on gentle trails for short mid-week runs, keep the intensity of the sport low and only wear the flexible shoes for light sessions. Give yourself recovery periods and build gradually like any strength program.

If you have any lower limb concerns or would like any further advice, contact Shoes Feet Gear

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