Emory Report
February 26, 2007
Volume 59, Number 21

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February 26, 2007
Runners go the distance for good health

by michael m.e. johns

You probably have heard a word or two around Emory about the importance of exercise. As spring teases, most of us look for ways we can increase our activity, with some of us taking small steps and others going a long distance. Your increased activity, no matter the distance, should be considered a feather in your cap.

The American Heart Association prompts us to strap on a pedometer and find out how many steps we take each day — something I support by encouraging members of the Emory community to wear a pedometer everywhere. Most folks can gradually add 250 steps per day, averaged out over the week, and this will provide a start for a healthy routine of physical activity. The aim is for a total of 10,000 or more steps each day. The more steps you take, the better your health.

Now, on the far side of the exercise continuum is the marathon. I am not sure how many steps it takes to run a marathon, but many Emory people will find out March 25 when they participate in the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon. Emory Healthcare has joined ING as an official partner and medical provider. The races will help Atlanta’s elite walking and running community, as well as its wheelchair athletes, celebrate fitness to the fullest.

A marathon is the longest run that most distance runners have attempted. Most recreational long-distance runners put in about 40 miles a week in total when training for a marathon, with the longest run approximately 20 to 21 miles.

More experienced marathoners may run longer distances and more miles during the week. In fact, a very elite group, called ultramarathoners, run even longer distances.

Of course, it is important that individuals who plan to run a long distance for the first time, or have not trained for a while, consult with a doctor about their fitness for this challenge. For the more than 400 Emory employees, students and their family members registered to participate in the ING marathon, half marathon and wheelchair race, training began at least four months ago and they are following a carefully planned training program.

ING participants could not have a better doctor-to-patient ratio than on this day! More than 40 Emory doctors are running, and many of our Emory Orthopedics & Spine Center and Sports Medicine Program physicians will be stationed along the routes. Emory Emergency Department doctors will also be present to attend to any unexpected emergencies, and Dr. Ian Greenwald of Emory’s Emergency Department is co-medical director of the event.

Remember, running or even walking a marathon or half marathon is an incredible physical challenge that should not be taken lightly by beginners or seasoned athletes. Emory experts say participants in this year’s race (and marathoners-to-be) should listen carefully to their bodies and be wary of signs of even the slightest injuries that may become larger issues long after a race is completed.

You can join the ING marathon fun and up to 15,000 runners by attending the ING Health & Fitness Expo March 23 and 24 at the AmericasMart in downtown Atlanta. If you are not racing, you can cheer on your friends and colleagues along the race routes, which start and end at Woodruff Park at Underground Atlanta, and travel through Fulton and DeKalb counties including Clifton Road and Peachtree Road past the Emory campuses.

Volunteers are still needed to staff the water stops in front of Emory Crawford Long Hospital and Emory University Hospital, the hospitality tent at the end of the race and the medical tents. To volunteer call Paige Dunham at 404-778-5394 or e-mail pdunham@emory.edu.

To learn more about the event, contact Kelly Frazer Reynolds in Emory Healthcare marketing at kelly.frazer@emoryhealthcare.org or visit http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/departments/employee/marathon/index.html and http://www.georgiamarathon.com/Community/Running_Community.