Virginia "Gini" Davis, physical therapist and owner of Crescent City Physical Therapy, has worked with the Crescent City Classic (CCC) 10k road race since it began 37 years ago. She trained with the U.S. Army as a physical therapist and earned her Master of Arts in Health Science degree at Ball State University. She volunteers as the training director for the CCC, where she created its three-level training programs. Below are her training tips.
Gambit: A lot of people are starting to train for the Crescent City Classic now. Once people decide to participate, what next step should they take?
Davis: Generally, people need to check with their physicians. Running should be something that's good for you. ... The Crescent City Classic [training programs] actually started the first week in January, but you're not too late. We build plenty of flex time in there because in New Orleans we know that people may [need] time for Mardi Gras or some kind of break.
What are some rookie mistakes new runners make?
Davis: No. 1 is [not wearing] good shoes. I always recommend people buy their shoes somewhere they will be fitted. The shoe needs to match up with the needs of your feet and the structure of your body.
The heat and humidity can change some of the characteristics of ... the running shoe so that it may tend to break down faster and not be the same as it was when it was a brand-new shoe. Even if you bought it on sale, it may actually have been in the store for almost a year.
It's hard to tell when an injury is enough to stop training or just scale back. Do you have some advice on how to gauge that and handle those situations?
Davis: If something starts bothering you and ... that pain is getting worse, you need to stop and walk. If the pain decreases or goes away when you're walking, then you might not be as concerned about it. If it's a sharp pain [and] you can't bear weight on your leg, then it's a good idea to see the doctor — certainly if there's swelling. If the pain goes down or goes away, come back the next day and try the same thing again. If this sort of scenario is repeated and it [keeps] coming back, you may want to see someone about it.
What advice do you have for those who are trying to fit training into an already full schedule?
Davis: Commitment is really important. If it's something you want to do, then [you'll] find time for it. I think the harder thing sometimes is people who are trying to balance their children. I started running [in] an indoor field house. I had to run a zillion times around the track because it was so short around the building, but they had a pole vault pit in the middle of the track with all this foam. My son was about three years old, so I put him in the pole vault pit and he bounced around [in] there and I could see him as I ran around.
What else besides running and other forms of cardio exercises can individuals do to support their training?
Davis: If you want to integrate your program to be well rounded, then strength and flexibility also are a part of a really good fitness routine. A lot of runners do not have good flexibility, and they need flexibility, because if they're not strong enough and they're not flexible enough then that can be a reason for injury.
What other advice do you have for those training for the Crescent City Classic?
Davis: I always call [the Crescent City Classic] "Mardi Gras on feet," because you're just going to see anything and everything. It's such a fun event, and it is so New Orleans. From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 2-3, there's a health and fitness expo. There will be all kinds of vendors there, and a lot of people talking about nutrition, health, preventing injury. Everybody can come to that, not just those [who] race.