Spring Marathon Training – Tips for Training and Injury Prevention
By Susie Burness
It’s the New Year when many often increase their training on a drive to kick start their fitness, and may have signed up to an event to help with the process. Both London and Brighton Marathon are looming closer with Brighton 7 weeks away and London 9 weeks away.
“How do we do train for these, reaping the maximal benefits whilst minimising the risk of injury?”
The following article seeks to look at a few top tips to train well.
Training error accounts for 60-70% of running injuries (with some articles reporting a figure of up to 80%).
Our musculoskeletal system made up of muscles, bones and tendons can tolerate a certain amount of load without any issue. However, when we suddenly demand more of it than it is ready for, that’s when pain or injury can occur.
Training Load is made up of the volume (amount), frequency and intensity of our training.
I have often seen people in Clinic who, on having signed up for running events have jumped from one run once every few weeks to 3-5 runs a week. Even though those runs themselves individually may not be perceived as difficult or challenging, the overall load on the body has significantly increased.
Gradual increase is important whilst allowing the body time to adapt to the new demands we are placing on it and therefore minimising the risk of injury.
Training error can commonly include things like:
- A rapid increase in mileage or overall volume (the amount of training you do per week)
- Not enough rest time
- Bunching of training (i.e. all sessions completed over the weekend due to a busy working week)
- An inappropriate mix of high versus low intensity sessions (too much high intensity).
High intensity sessions would include things like sprint sessions or intervals.
- A big change in the terrain or gradient that you normally train on
A few things may be useful to keep in mind as you increase your training heading towards your goal.
- 10% rule
Only increase your mileage by 10% each time (particularly when thinking about your ‘long’ run)
- Step up, step back
On increasing the mileage of your runs, keep at this distance for several weeks before increasing it again
- 80:20 ratio of low vs high intensity
Low intensity, steadier state work should make up the bigger proportion of your running training versus sprint or interval based work for pace.
- One goal each run
Try not to focus on too many things at once, i.e. don’t run long runs too quickly
- Plan training to allow rest after longer or harder sessions
I.e. plan your rest day after your speed session
Gradually increase the number of runs per week, allowing your body time to acclimatise.
Take into account other exercise you may also be doing in the week, your body will need to recover from this too. Plan your training and plan your rest days.
How else can we decrease risk of injury?
Many of the below may be things we reach for or think about once we already have a problem. However, as the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure.” Fitting several short foam rolling sessions in a week or periodically treating yourself to a sports massage will improve your performance as well as avoiding the niggles that build up.
Foam rolling is a great tool to aid recovery. A low cost roller is simple and effective and can be used to release muscle groups all over the body.
Though foam rolling is a good tool, sometimes we require the expertise of a Sports Masseuse. They can affectively assess and treat more specifically tight muscles groups in a way that we can’t with a foam roller.
Strength & Conditioning
Running places a lot of load on your body. To put this into some perspective statistically, a 80kg runner who averages 500 foot contacts per mile will tolerate 100,000 kg of load per mile. (This takes into account the effect of ground reaction force) That’s a lot of load!
Therefore, being strong and having good muscular endurance is important. Especially if we’re asking our legs to tolerate the demands of 3-5 hours of running during a marathon.
Good gluteal, core and lower limb strength can contribute to improved biomechanics and load tolerance when running.
Strong core and gluteal muscles help to stabilise your pelvis and minimise valgus forces at the knee (when your knee drops in), which is a common contributor to ITB syndrome and patellofemoral pain.
The calf complex (made up of your gastrocnemius and soleus) plays an important part in both propulsion and shock absorption. A strong calf can both improve your speed and minimise the forces translated up your leg.
Mo Farah can squat 1.5 times his body weight. He uses regular strength and conditioning sessions to not only minimise the risk of injury, but to improve his running performance.
Incorporating some simple exercises like squats and lunges can be excellent for maintaining this.
A good pair of trainers
Running shoes are designed to last for a certain mileage and how long they last will depend on your weekly running volume. Digging that pair from the depths of the cupboard that have been around since the early 2000’s may not be ideal for pounding the streets multiple times a week in the run up to a marathon.
The general rule is to find a pair of trainers that you feel comfortable in though some people may benefit from more support in their trainers than others.
The best way to find a shoe that works for you is to go to a running shop where they can assess this.
Our friends at Moti can advise you on what kind of shoe would work for you. They do running assessments in house and have a great range of running trainers to suit all needs.
I hope this gives you some useful tips for marathon season. However, if you’re having pain or discomfort that isn’t settling despite adhering to the above, we’d advise you pop in to see one of our Physios for an expert assessment. Happy running.
See More about Calf Injuries here
See More about Knee Injuries here