There is nothing worse than progress being stunted by injury. Here is our most important advice to keep you running happily.
Gradually increase mileage
Having a well thought out training plan means your body can adapt to the increase in activity. The general rule is to increase mileage by 10% every week. If you are introducing any new types of training, like hill running or intervals, ensure these are introduced gradually to allow your body to acclimatise.
Your training plan should factor in enough time for rest. Rest is a huge part of marathon training, our body needs to repair and adapt the new demands. If we skip this then out risk of injury increased dramatically.
Listen to your body
Our bodies are very tuned in to what’s going on and where needs your attention. A niggle is a warning sign that something isn’t quite right. Almost all niggles are fixable, but it’s so important to not ignore these warning signs – if we do then it’s likely to quickly turn from a niggle to an injury!
It is much easier to fix an injury in its early stages rather than later, when there might be compensation or stiffness from surrounding structures. And remember- prevention is better than cure so if you have any doubts get yourself booked in to see a physiotherapist for an MOT to catch any issues before they become a problem.
Having a good pair of trainers is essential. We advise you change trainers after 300-500 miles of running. Running shops are usually helpful at looking at your foot position and gait and advising accordingly. The Back and Body Clinic would recommend ‘The Running Shop’ in Northampton, who has provided running trainers for lots of happy marathon runners.
Look after your feet during every run, use blister plasters as soon as you notice some discomfort to prevent the skin getting more damaged (these could be carried with you in a pocket when you run!)
Nutrition and Hydration
Putting the right nutrients into your body will really help you to get the best out of it! Carbohydrates will be the main fuel during training and race day and it is therefore essential to include these in your diet. This could be with toast, cereals or porridge.
It is also vital to make sure you stay well hydrated before and during each run. Drinking little and often is the best way to do this without feeling too full! It is recommended to drink electrolyte drinks during and after running, which will aid your performance and recovery.
To minimise your chances of getting a stitch, ensure you eat a lightweight meal 2-3 hours before your run. You could have a power snack like a banana just before setting off.
More on avoiding stitches below!
Warm Up and Cool Down
One of the biggest causes of a side stitch is setting off too fast, so the diaphragm does not have sufficient blood circulation. This can be avoided by ensuring you warm up really thoroughly before starting your run. This is also very important to reduce the risk of muscle strains and other injuries.
A good warm up should consist of some dynamic stretching, progressing to more active running drills to get your heart pumping a little faster. You might also find it beneficial to do a few specific strength exercises to really switch on the right muscles.
An efficient cool down routine will help to decrease that post-run muscle ache and aid recovery ready for your next training! This could consist of gently decreasing your effort at the end of your run (perhaps walk for 5 minutes before stopping), prolonged static stretches, and foam rolling.