Its that time of year when we are only a few weeks till some of the biggest events of the year for many club runners. Namely, Manchester marathon on the 16th and London on the 23rd. Most runners have been religiously following their plan from the start of the year and for many the biggest mileage has been over the last couple of weekends. This is the time when things can start to niggle and here in clinic we start to see runners developing over use injuries. Its the body’s was of saying you’ve done too much!! Training for a marathon is hard work!!! We all know that but factor in family life, work, stress, poor sleep, poor diet it can really take its toll on the body. Many runners have the added stress of doing the run for a charity and have worked really hard to raise a significant amount of money, some are running with good for age places and for some its simply a dream come true. All this added stress puts us at risk of injury and couple this with high mileage you can see why things sometimes start to go wrong.
So here’s my very basic tips for managing those niggles.
1- DONT PANIC!!!! It isn’t the end of the world!! You’ve made it this far and have done all the hard work, you’ve built your base fitness and got those miles in your legs. Nothing you do now will change that and panicking will only stress you out and possibly lead to poor mental focus and poor sleep
2- Totally rest. If you have had pain or noticed some swelling then there’s absolutely no point ‘testing it out’ by running on it. Get your weight off the sore area as much as possible. Think about a cut on your arm- you watch it healing over 1-2 weeks (10 days is a nice number), well an acute injury inside your body is just the same. Your body is an amazing piece of engineering and can fix its self perfectly well but it needs TIME.
3- Keep gently moving the sore area- keeping the joint/soft tissue gently moving keeps the blood flow to the area and stimulates the synovial fluid within the joint which helps healing
4- Don’t roller or stretch!!!!! All too often its a runners go to method of self torture. Think about a scab forming; if you keep picking at it it wont heal. Over stretching an already grumbly tendon or soft tissue can delay healing. I usually recommend some very gentle self massage around the area or in the muscles with some massage lotion
5- Get plenty of sleep- sleep is when the body repairs itself so aim to get 7-9 hours each night
6- Eat plenty of protein rich foods – your body needs protein for repair so its a no brainer for runners
7- Don’t run until the pain is almost gone- if Manchester is your target you might try a very gentle 3 miles with a bit of walking thrown in 2 days before just to see how it feels, for London you have a bit longer to rest up so make the most of this time. If you don’t run between now and your marathon it really isn’t a bad thing and you will feel super ready to get going. You could always get out for some walks while things are settling as its still time on your legs. ( I know runners hate to walk though)
8- Get some voltarol gel or take ibuprofen regularly as though it were a prescribed drug. Wait 2 or 3 days for things to settle so your body can do what its good at then start to use these to aid removing any swelling.
9- Focus mentally- spend some time each day getting into ‘the zone’. Walk through the event in your head, send yourself some positive vibes and focus on your body as a whole. Practice some mindful breathing so you are channeling your breath deep into the lungs so it can be carried around the body. Then on the day you can use that focus to channel the adrenaline and bring your breathing under control
9- If you are really worried or just need some advice then get it checked out!! We are happy to see patients for a 1 off for some advice and reassurance
At the end of the day though we aren’t miracle workers and can only advise on what we think is the best way forward. You are about to run a marathon, things will hurt after but there is a difference between pain that will subside (so you are left with just the glory!!) or pain that is telling you that something is wrong. You’ve come this far though so breath, take a chill pill and let your body be its amazing self
Drop us a message if you just want a bit of advice