Tips for an injury free marathon build up
The marathon is a distance of 26.2 miles, or 42km. Whilst there are a wide variety of terrains this can be completed on, the standard distance always remains the same - and has done since 1921, based on the route designed for the 1908 Olympics in London. But where and why did the marathon originate? Legend has it that the Greek messenger, Philippides, ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the end of the Battle of Marathon - a distance of approximately 25 miles (40km).
With the London Marathon being only 3 months away, now is the time to remain injury free and knock any niggles on the head! What may seem like a small niggle at the moment can, as you build up the miles, manifest itself into something that can stop you reaching the start line. A few guidelines below, from the CSPC physiotherapy team and their experience of seeing patients hobbling into the practice in an untimely manner, can help you reach your goal.
Get an MOT
If you haven’t already had one, see a physio for an MOT to assess how you are moving and if you are strong enough to be able to put in all of the miles you need to. An assessment of spinal mobility, muscle strength (especially calves and glutes), functional stability and flexibility can really help you to maintain your technique when the going gets tough. Weakness in any of these areas can lead to poor running style as you tire, which can lead to loss of efficiency and alter your breathing pattern, which only make life harder and that finish line seem so far away!!
Have a diet MOT
Are you eating enough to refuel? Are you eating enough so that you aren’t burning muscles for fuel as you head into those long runs? Do you know what you are thinking of drinking on the day and eating on the morning of the race? Nutrition can play a huge part in both performance and injury prevention, and so is a huge thing to get right in the build up and on the day. As an example, you might want to think about trying hydration tablets, carb and electrolyte powder to mix into your drink, energy gels, and recovery powder. What works for each individual is different, so it is worth some trial and error in training. Ideally you need to find a balance between maintaining energy, whilst minimising any stomach discomfort (which is why gels are a good idea, rather than hefty snacks). See our range of running nutrition.
Balance, mobility work and prehabilitation
As tired as you may be with all the miles, keep doing this type of work if you have been given it. The further you run, the more endurance you need in your muscles and the more stable you need to be. To run a good marathon, you need to have the fitness and capability to run the distance, and also need the muscle strength and endurance to cope with it! We have a range of exercise equipment like foam rollers and resistance bands to help you along the way!
As important as refuelling, rehydrating and getting warm after runs, make sure you are stretching enough so that you are not going to pull anything and put your performance at risk.
Sleep, work/life balance and recovery
These are major factors to take into consideration when training. It’s all well and good completing all of your training, but if you’re only sleeping 5 hours per night and are exhausted from work, this is not going to be sustainable! Be realistic when planning what you can fit in and always prioritise having enough sleep and time to chill - as the training won’t be half as effective without those things in place!
Practice drinking on the run
It is important to practice drinking from a bottle, when running at race pace- otherwise you will be wearing your drink. Not great for hydration!!
Practice running at race pace
Long runs are important, but so is training your legs to turn over at race pace - your legs and you need to know what this feels like!
Are you on schedule?
Have you scheduled in all the work you need to do, and factored in the easy weeks just before race day for resting, preparing and refuelling?
Work out what you think you may run on the day and have some idea of what minute milling you are capable of. Your coach (if you have one) will obviously advise on this. Covering your first 10km in a PB is only going to end in hitting the wall later on! Remember to be disciplined with this - it’s so easy to get caught up in the atmosphere with all the adrenaline, so keep reminding yourself to slow down if needed and run your own race!
Make sure you have a plan to meet your helper, as there are crowds of people milling about at the race finish, making it extremely difficult to find people (and you’re likely not to have a phone on you!).
Post race recovery
Make sure you schedule in adequate rest, and refuel and rehydrate properly after the race. It is worth a check up before getting back into training again, as a lot of damage can be done in a marathon. You will be sore, that is a given, but taking the time to recover properly will enable you to bounce back in the most healthy way.
Last but not least, ENJOY the day!
Running a marathon is a massive achievement, regardless of time or finishing position. Just to get to the line having coped with the training and being well prepared is something to be proud of, and will help you have the best experience possible! Have fun!!
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