The best way to prevent injuries is neither ‘inactivity’ nor “overdoing it.” Prevention is balancing somewhere between the two.

Successful conditioning for a marathon involves understanding the difference, and balance, between microtrama and macrotrama to your muscles and joints. Microtrama occurs when you train at a sufficient intensity, duration, and frequency, but do not feel pain. Conversely when you feel pain, you’ve moved from micro to macrotrama.

Where the balancing act gets interesting is that it’s ok to have “aches” sometimes. What’s the difference between an ache and a pain? Aches are dull and generally go away. Pains are sharp and often get progressively worse. You’ll know the difference when you feel it.

Speaking of which, you can mask the very important message a pain is sending you with pain killers. For that reason it is very important to not take pain killers (i.e. aspirin, tylenol, ibuprophin, etc.) before going on a run. Do not take pain killers before any run — and yes, that includes training runs.

In a nutshell, obeying the “Rules of the Road” is best way to prevent injuries.

In addition to the “Rules,” our Hawaii climate means that you need some specialized protection for your feet, skin, head, and eyes.

Good shoes and clothes
Making the investment in a good pair of running shoes is the one piece of equipment that you probably should “splurge” on. Nonetheless, expensive does not necessarily mean “good.” Selecting the right shoes is downright difficult for novice marathoners. The best way to learn how is to attend Dr. Scaff’s Sunday talk on, “Picking a pair of running feet,” and then attend our Sunday shoe clinic.

Clothing choice is not as critical, but you’ll be a lot cooler if you forgo running in that “comfortable” old cotton t-shirt or tank top. “Technical fabrics” as in Clinic-logoed shirts wick away sweat, reduce overheating, and minimize chaffing.

Protection for you skin, head, and eyes
You know that you need sunscreen for your skin, but nowhere is sun protection more important for than for the top of your head and for your eyes. A hat made of CoolMax, or equivalent materials, is both more comfortable and essential, due to the extended amount of time we are training in the Sun.

Last, but not least, it’s important to wear sunglasses. The ultraviolet (UV) light entering your eyes is cumulative over your entire lifetime. UV exposure causes cataracts. Use sunglasses that filter out at least 99% of UV rays.