If you have just got your first place in the London Marathon for 2018 – congratulations! Or perhaps you are new to distance running? Either way you’re no doubt excited but perhaps equally anxious about the challenges ahead.
Training for, and then running a marathon is a great achievement but there are lots of potential pitfalls along the way to overcome. Read on to find out our Running specialist, Dave Burnett’s top tips to help you glide along the road to success! Dave heads up our Running Clinic team of Physiotherapists.
1. Training programmes
“What do you mean? – I don’t just start running?!”
Whether you are just looking to get round or have a timed goal in mind, a marathon training programme is vital to success.
The programme you choose will depend on lots of factors including: your previous running experiences, the time you have available to train, your general health, your level of fitness and any injuries you may have or have had in the past.
If you are new to exercise, have any significant cardiovascular or bone health problems or are overweight, it’s a good idea to see your GP before you start training.
If you are new to running and don’t exercise regularly, it’s best to start with a Beginner’s Training Programme such as:
If you have some running experience or you are generally fit and exercise regularly the below link offers Marathon Programmes from beginner to advanced.
You will notice that your plan includes lots of activities that aren’t running. This is because we know that working on all the different aspects of fitness – flexibility, cardiovascular, core strength, muscle power and running pattern can help your all round performance and lower risks of injury.
2. Distance runners get injured frequently – so lower your injury risk!
Since the 1980’s the yearly risk for regular runners to get injured has remained as high as 70-80% despite advances in training methods and footwear technology.
As a ‘running beginner’ (i.e. less than a year’s experience), or if you have had any previous running injuries, you are at a higher risk of getting injured.
‘Overuse’ or ‘training load errors’ are common pitfalls in distance running. Beginners are often susceptible to injuries caused by ‘too much, too soon, too fast!’.
Simply put – if your training load (frequency, intensity, time and type) is higher than what your tissues can tolerate, you’ll get injured.
Our tissue tolerance is multi-factorial and related to: our age, our genetics, our general health, any previous injuries, our strength and mobility, our biomechanics, ability to recover, sleep, nutrition and lifestyle!
How we can help: At Physio on the River we offer a Physiotherapy Running Screening Assessment. Our physios can give you expert advice to reduce your injury risk and help you to progress through your training programme. The running assessment includes:
- Health screening to help flag up any important health or disease factors that could affect your running
- Physical screening tests specifically tailored to running which will highlight movement restrictions or imbalances in muscle strength or control
- Treadmill video analysis of your running to identify any technical issues with your running pattern
- Advice on running based strength and conditioning exercises to complement your training schedule
3. Do you need an injury MOT?
Research shows that runners often carry old injuries that have never been properly sorted out. An old niggle can place you at higher risk of developing a further injury so it’s really essential to get these assessed and treated properly before you start out on your running journey.
Common problem injuries may include calf muscle or Achilles tendon injuries, kneecap or knee tendon problems, buttock, hamstring and groin injuries or lower back pain.
Our physios are specialists at assessing the way you move and identifying the causes of injury. They can help you resolve ongoing issues.
4. Treat your feet!
It may sound obvious but a decent pair of running shoes will help reduce risk of injuries and make those longer runs much more bearable down the line.
The type of shoe you choose will depend on several important factors including:
- your foot posture and shape of your feet (narrow or wide, high arch or flatter arch etc)
- your running style – whether you are a heel striker or a forefoot striker
- your running biomechanics – i.e. how all your joints from the lower spine to the toes move in a chain. Running can be affected by seemingly remote things like a stiff big toe or a stiff upper back!
It is therefore good to consider buying some shoes from somewhere that has the knowledge and skills to identify these factors properly. Locally we recommend Sporting Feet in Putney or Up and Running in Sheen.
5. Food for thought – literally!
A late and a croissant on the train to work simply won’t cut it in the world of marathon training! Your training schedule isn’t a license to eat just what you fancy!
- So base your diet around mainly fresh, unprocessed foods – vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds.
- Don’t forget to include some healthy fats like olive oil, avocado and oily fish to support your immune system, which may be compromised by heavy training. These healthy fats can help your joints recover from pounding the pavements.
- Eat more on your long run days and less on your rest days, particularly starchy and sugary foods.
- Keeping alcohol to less than 14 units per week is also advisable.
To read more about nutrition and hydration for your marathon training and the race day itself read our blog here.
So to summarise: start by sorting out any old unresolved niggles, get yourself a proper training plan suitable to your particular level of experience, come and have a Running Assessment Screening session or Injury MOT with Dave, get yourself a decent pair of running shoes and don’t forget to fuel yourself properly!
If you would like to book a session with Dave or one of the team of physios, just call 0203 916 0286, email us here , book online by clicking the book online button on the right here or drop in for a chat.
If you have found this blog useful and would like to read our other running and marathon blogs just click here.