With the TCS London Marathon now only a month away, Up & Running, in association with CSPC Physiotherapy, have put together a few guidelines for an injury-free run.
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).
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!
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?
An obvious one, but make sure you have run in the kit and shoes you are going to run in on the day. Have a think about what you might do if it is really cold on the day- nothing is worse for performance and enjoyment than being too cold for hours on end. Ensure comfort and support over anything else – a Marathon is a long way!
Opt for fast but supportive trainers – there are so many options out there to choose from and, if you’re having any doubts, just nip into Up and Running for an expert to help find the shoe for you! Plus, anything that is going to decrease chafing is a good idea – just by doing something simple, such as putting Vaseline in any areas that chafe easily!
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!).
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 healthiest 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!!
Up & Running
6, The Exchange