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Harlingen Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay, and Valley Baptist-sponsored 5k set for February 25

Feb 23, 2018

HARLINGEN — Preparations are under way for the Harlingen Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay and Valley Baptist Health System-sponsored 5k, scheduled for Sunday, February 25.

The runs, for which Valley Baptist Health System will serve as the medical sponsor, will include a full and half marathon as well as a relay and 5k, will begin at 6:30 a.m. at Lon C. Hill Park located at 1204 Fair Park Boulevard in Harlingen. A health expo and packet pickup is scheduled for 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 24 at Casa de Amistad, located adjacent to Lon C. Hill Park.

Dr. Michael Eisen, a local physician who specializes in sports medicine and who will serve as medical director of the marathon and its accompanying runs, said events like the Harlingen Marathon are key to the fitness community in the Rio Grande Valley and can be important motivational tools for those looking to lead healthier lives.

“It’s about becoming committed to health and exercise. If this is a new undertaking, kudos to you and keep going. Maintain it and keep it as part of your life from here on out,” he said. “We look forward to working with the staff of the Harlingen Marathon and we hope this event becomes a staple within the community.”

Eisen said local residents must take responsibility for their health and play an active role in their healthcare by changing how they view their role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“As a whole, throughout the nation and the Rio Grande Valley, we need to fulfill more of an obligation to health and exercise. What I see currently within my field is a failure of people committing to one’s self,” he said. “We have this acceptance with obesity and high cholesterol and we have this allowance to proceed down an unhealthy road. We’ve invested in poor choices to the extent that we’ve rationalized killing ourselves. It’s no longer happening slowly – we’re killing ourselves at an expedited rate.”

Exercise such as walking and jogging or running along with a balanced diet can help in the fight against diabetes and obesity, and even cancer. According to recent information released by the American Cancer Society, about 42 percent of cancer cases and 45 percent of cancer deaths are linked to modifiable risk factors and could be preventable. Based on data from 2014, these figures translate to nearly 660,000 cancer cases and more than 265,000 cancer deaths.

“These are things like cigarette smoking, excess body weight, eating red and processed meat, and lack of physical inactivity,” Eisen said. “If your doctor said you had a 40 percent chance of not walking out of their office with the diagnosis of cancer, would you make the correct choices? As physicians, we’re not asking for extremes, these are basic steps anyone can take to implement a positive lifestyle.”

Breaking the chains of a sedentary lifestyle often takes commitment and the desire to lead a healthier lifestyle through regular exercise and better nutrition habits. In terms of exercise, walking, and eventually jogging and running can be excellent exercise methods for those looking to improve their overall level of fitness.

“If you’re just starting, walk first before you run. You want to build up a base. Walking and later jogging are great because they are accessible and they don’t require any special or additional equipment,” Eisen said. “But even so, you have to say, ‘This is something I want to do for myself.’ You have to commit and you can’t expect long term results in the short term. I think many people become frustrated because they want to see everything in the here and now. It’s that short term behavior that we can all fall into, but better health and lifestyle choices are commitments and there are no shortcuts.”

When choosing an exercise regimen, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that individuals engage in a moderate level of activity for at least 30 minutes five days a week. However, it can be important for individuals to start slow after being examined by their physician and build both the duration and intensity of their activities.

“You hear about 5Ks, marathons, triathlons and the like, but really people should not worry so much about the distance and instead go for a time threshold,” Eisen said. “Be comfortable for a certain period of time and start there. Instead of worrying about five miles, do 20 or 30 minutes and add more as your body becomes used to it.”

As for the risks of taking up jogging, runners can be prone to injuries in the legs and feet — the most common being strains, sprains, and “over-use” types of injuries. All athletes, including beginners, should understand the importance of rest and recovery when it comes to improving performance and preventing injury.

“Every run should be run with a purpose, there should be a reason behind it. The ratio often talked about is 80/20. Most of your runs should be lower intensity, while 20 percent are higher intensity,” Eisen said. “You should have that tempo run that gets the heart rate up, but the rest of the week is the buildup for the long run at week’s end. Proper training and having a goal with each run lends itself to recovery. You also have to have the proper staples of nutrition. And one of the key factors is rest at night – the average person needs anywhere from 6 to 8 hours of sleep.”

When it comes to living a healthier life, running a marathon isn’t the only path to improved fitness. While exercise is important, making poor nutritional choices can sabotage hours of hard work.

“Patients often ask me about the most important exercise they can be doing, good weight management starts with the muscles of the mouth. You have to control what you eat,” Eisen said.

For more information on the health benefits and risks of running and other sports, consult your physician and visit www.ValleyBaptist.net. For more information on the upcoming Harlingen Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay and 5k, visit www.harlingenmarathon.com.

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