Road races are becoming more popular nationwide, and though many of those events are still months away, medical and running experts say it's not too early to start getting ready.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Even if you're one of those people who's never made a basket, scored a touchdown, or hit a baseball, there's at least one sport you can make your own.
"No one ever taught you how to run. You know, you just went in your backyard and you did it," said Ed Griffin, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Syracuse.
Running USA reports 13.9 million people finished road races in 2011 -- up from just more than five million in 1991.
"If people are going to run a race, it's very important to get a plan. It's important to get the right shoes for running and to really think about what the goals are for the race," said Karen Kemmis, a physical therapist with SUNY Upstate.
Physical therapists say it's a good idea to put that plan into motion three or four months before an event.
Fleet Feet Sports offers running programs aimed at getting people ready to cross the finish line and stay safe while doing so.
"We always teach them how to run with proper form and that helps reduce the risk of injury," said Fred Joslyn, training program manager at Fleet Feet.
Joslyn says posture is key.
"It also helps your body to become more efficient, because if you fatigue your muscles evenly -- if I use my hamstrings, my quads, both -- then you're going to be able to have more endurance," said Joslyn.
Other tips include taking quick, light steps, and don't land heel first -- instead make sure it's the middle of foot hitting the ground to spread impact throughout foot.
If you do get injured, pay attention to your body.
"Every injury can lead to serious problems if it's not acknowledged," said Kemmis. "If something persists, or if a person can't run or walk normally, then they really need to stop, have it examined."
Because sometimes taking a breather can help make sure runners aren't slowed down for good.
For more information on Fleet Feet's training programs, visit: fleetfeetsyracuse.com.