The Rapidian Home

Talking with the Experts: Gazelle Girl Training Tips from Metro Health Sports Medicine

The Rapidian and Metro Health Sports Medicine Center - both proud sponsors of the 2014 Gazelle Girl Half Marathon & 5k - team up to talk winter running and spring race training tips!

/Michelle Gordon

Gazelle Girl Half Marathon

The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5k began in 2013 as the first women’s-only half marathon event in Michigan. The run, organized by Gazelle Sports, connects women through movement, achievement, celebration, friendship and fun. Proceeds from the event will benefit Kent County Girls on the Run, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), the YWCA, D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s all organizations dedicated to empowering women of all ages. For more information on the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5k, visit


The Rapidian is proud to be a media sponsor for the race this year! Citizen reporters Roberta F. King, Chelsie Wyse, and Lisa Rose Starner will be writing about running and the event. If you're a veteran or novice runner and have a story to share, let us know.

/Gazelle Girl Half Marathon & 5k

It's February, and while we are months away from a spring thaw, many runners are in the thick of their winter training for spring races like April's Gazelle Girl Half Marathon & 5k. The Rapidian, a sponsor of the upcoming Gazelle Girl, takes a moment to interview Metro Health Sports Medicine's Terence Reuben, physical therapist and triathlete, for his expertise and advice on winter running and spring race training tips! 

Q: For a new runners, what advice do you give them to prevent injury while training for their first race? 

A: You must have a plan. Make your plan realistic to your abilities. Set a conservative goal. Tweak your plan if you strain anything. Follow the basic guidelines of warm-up, stretch, train, warm-down. 

Q: For experienced runners, what good reminders do you have as they enter training seasons? 

A: Don't forget to follow your plan.

Q: We are in the middle of winter running season, with no end in sight. What are some safety tips to stay safe in the more frigid winter conditions? Managing wind chill, cold muscles, fatigue, potholes?  

A: Wear the right gear! Gor-tex shoes with grippy soles or yaktrax. Layer your clothing. Avoid cotton. Hat; gloves! Visit your local sports store for the latest & greatest. Regarding managing your body, when it's cold, most people do not hydrate adequately. You still sweat in the cold, so depending on your mileage, replace water & electrolytes adequately. Keep in mind that you will be a little slower getting started due to the cold and due to the outside conditions. Don't push the pace if you're not feeling it.

Q: As the spring season race training kicks off, what are some of the most common training injuries you see in your office? 

A: At this time of the year we see mostly sprained ankles & knees due to the wintry training conditions.

Q: It’s not fun to be hurt, and not fun to have to sit out or adjust race day expectations. That said, sometimes it’s unavoidable. How do you coach your patients to adjust their race day expectations, goals to allow for rest, healing and recovery as the body may need?  

A: Depending on the duration of your race, you should build in a few days to a week of recovery for the last week of your racing plan. In general, we recommend running no more than 3 days/week - 1 speed workout/track repeats/hill repeats; 1 tempo run (4-6 miles); 1 long run. We also recommend periodization training/phasing which may look something like 2 weeks of build training, 1 week of peak training, & 1 week of recovery training. If you are cross training, we recommend 1 complete day of rest from all sporting activity to allow your body to recover. 

Q: What are your favorite cross training activities runners can adopt to improve their strength, cardio and overall performance? 

A: There are several programs out there but the simplest stuff can be swimming, biking, weight-training & core drills. But as a triathlete, I may be a little biased with that routine :-) 

Q: What if a runner has questions about their form or body design — does your office offer running evaluations?

A: Not at this moment. We refer our patients to Gazelle Sports for this. Through our partnership with Gazelle Sports, we offer a FREE Video Gait Analysis on the 4th Tuesday of each month (by appointment) at Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids. [For customized training and strength plans designed to meet their current physical fitness needs and history of injury], our best recommendation is to get with a Personal Trainer who specializes in runners. Through our partnership with RunGR, we refer to Coach Mike Wojciakowski for help with this.

Q: Many runners rely on nutrition supports like gels and energy tabs, especially for use as energy on longer runs.  What are your favorite approaches for long run stamina? 

A: I have personally tried several different approaches to nutrition that have mostly worked but sometimes have not. I have previously trained with Gatorade, water, GU with caffeine, Succeed salt tabs & Cliff bars for long distances. I have recently explored Infinit nutrition products & find that this one drink manages ALL my nutritional requirements & I do not have to carry multiple products. That being said, you could ask 100 different athletes & get 100 different answers. [For post run recovery,] my current preference is for R4 Electrolyte Recovery drink but I know many athletes also use Accelerade or Hammer products. There are many products out there that have their own special claims. For long runs, we need to replace between 200-300 calories/hour depending on your weight. We recommend trying a variety of products that meet your nutritional needs & gives you the required calories. The caloric replacement should include water, electrolytes and a little protein. Some athletes prefer solids; others liquids; & others a combination. Whatever you choose, make sure you try it several times in training before you try it in a race. On race day, do not try anything new. We also recommend a pre-workout & post-workout drink to help with performance & recovery.


Gazelle Girl Half Marathon & 5k training plans are available online (download the plans) and get the miles on your calendar to help keep your training on schedule. Need a training partner? Consider signing up for the Priority Health Run Camp to support your training goals. This is a great opportunity for new and experienced runners alike to train with a group at their ability level for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, the 5k, and The FifthThird Riverbank Run. Remember, there is never the wrong weather- only the wrong clothing (read Gazelle's tips on layers for winter running HERE). For Gazelle Girl Half Marathon & 5k registration information, click HERE. The Rapidian is a proud media sponsor of the event, and commends the race's effort to stay hyperlocal in their work to promote healthy lifestyles for women and girls in the Greater Grand Rapids area. 

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.