Avoiding injury during marathon training
Welcome to 2024! I hope you have all had a great festive period and I’m sure by now you are focusing on your goals for the year ahead. Spring marathons will rapidly be upon us and many people start their training from January the first and as I write this there are just 107 days until the London marathon which is one of the biggest and most iconic in the running calendar. (107 days is just 15 weeks)
For a huge majority of runners this simply isnt long enough and it puts you at greater risk of picking up injuries as the training ramps up. If you are starting to train for a spring marathon then these tips will help you reduce your risk of picking up an injury.
1- Give your body time to adapt- if you are looking to build up your running to marathon distance, for most people this is a big jump in both distance and training. The average marathon time for a woman is 4 hours 48 and for a man its 4 hours 30 so this is a long time on your feet. Running is high impact and causes trauma that your body has to recover from. It can take around 4- 6 weeks for adaptations to soft tissue to occur. This means your ligaments, tendons, fascia start to adapt to the stresses that running puts them under. Keeping your sessions regular is vital to achieve those changes. Running 3 times a week with a mix of distance and pace will build resilience in the soft tissue. Get this good solid block of 6 weeks under your belt before you start to increase the mileage. Increasing your mileage is more about good nutrition and recovery.
2- Don’t over eat- now we are all different but as a very loose rule of thumb, running for 60 mins burns about 100 calories per mile. This will of course depend on your size, pace and gender. So for the average female runner 60 mins will get them around 5- 6 miles. This means you’ll burn around 500- 600 calories. A bagel with cheese on will probably replace around 400 of those, add a coffee and you’ll be replacing between 150 and 200. The average woman burns roughly 2500 calories per day by just being alive. So just because you are running more doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. My advice is to find a good nutritionist and work with them for a few months to get good habits in place early on. Its more important when you eat so you are well fueled for your longer runs and that you are giving your body the right nutrients to aid recovery.
3- Add in your S&C- need I say anything!!!!! Research has shown that adding in 2 sessions of strength based exercises sessions with weights can reduce your risk of picking up an injury!!! Why?? Because it strengthens your body to absorb the forces transmitted through it when running. It can improve performance even if you don’t add any more miles to your training. Start now and make it part of your marathon training programme. I can help you put together a very simple S&C programme
4- Get good quality sleep- When you’re asleep, specifically in the “deep sleep” phase, your body releases growth hormone, which starts repairing damage. This damage could be from injury. But normal exercise also causes your muscles to break down slightly, which is thought to be a contributing cause of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) . The deep sleep phase creates the best environment for your body to break down and rebuild damaged muscle cells. This repair process is what actually leads to muscle growth and the way physical fitness improves over time. Try to get into a good routine before bed to allow your mind to unwind. Aim for 7-9 hours each night and there’s certainly nothing wrong with an afternoon nap if you are lucky enough to be able to squeeze one in
5- Eat a varied diet of health wholefoods- To aid your recovery and fuel your body you need plenty of health nutritious foods. Its important to get the right balance of macro nutrients and once again I would advise seeking a recommended nutritionist to work with. You dont need to include meat to get all your proteins but if you do follow a plant based diet it is important that you are getting enough of the right micro nutrients. Fueled correctly, your body is capable of amazing things
So there you go, some very simple tips for you. The other biggie is to not ignore niggles. Come and see me so we can check them out and adapt your running/training to allow you to continue to train around them. 15 weeks really isn’t long so please….look after yourself.
If you want to book in for an MOT please get in touch