Marathon running

How to get the marathon result you want and know you deserve!

You’ve been pounding the pavement for weeks if not months in preparation. Honing your body and figuring out all the details like the right hydration and nutrition on the day. Maybe you’ve run a few test events in the run up. You’ve spent hours training, put off social engagements and neglected friends and loved ones in the lead up to the London Marathon.

So, how do you guarantee that you’ll perform your best on the day? How do you make sure that all the hard work doesn’t amount to disappointment? How do you avoid the “if only” feeling of missing out on the target you’ve set yourself?

The five points of performance

Well, I decided to consult James Parris of Parris Performance Coaching to get his take on success. James is a Performance and Behavioural Change Specialist.

Having coached Elite sport for over 15 years, the ONE thing that James found that works is a model called the 5 Points of Performance. It’s a simple model you can use for your sporting endeavours and anything else in your life you want to succeed at.

The 5 points are – circumstance, thoughts, feelings, actions and results.


Usually, people focus on the circumstance they find themselves in, which is generally NOT what they want. This leads to negative thoughts, which in turn makes them feel bad in some way. Feeling bad means that they don’t take the right actions and that leads to a poor result.

Focus on the result you want to get

What works is to focus on the results you want and reverse engineer a way of getting there.

You’ve heard it said a million times that you can’t change the circumstances you find yourself in. Only by getting the results you want will you find yourself in the circumstances you wish to have.

You’ve also heard it often said that you need to set goals if you want to achieve something. This is exactly right, but often it’s left at just that, a big hairy, lofty goal. Very few people think to actually engineer the steps to make their way to hitting the goal. Break it down into smaller bite size pieces.

So, let’s draw a line under the circumstance you find yourself in during the Marathon and set it to one side. Now, let’s work the model backwards from the results you want.


Use all the standard goal setting tools you’ve previously heard about be it SMART (Specific, Measured, Achievable, Realistic and Timed), or which ever. Now write the goal out as if you have already achieved it, beginning with “I am”, or “I have”. Like this – I have run the London Marathon in a time of 3 hours and 55 minutes. I did this by running 9 minute miles, drinking a cup of water every 5 miles and having a gel every hour.

Now you need to make this into a Daily Declaration which you repeat to yourself every morning and evening in the lead up to the race.


Now you can move onto the exact actions you need to achieve the result you want. You want to map this out in minute detail. A great way of doing that is by using the Escape and Arrival framework.

This maps out the thing you want to Escape from – the current personal best you want to beat or maybe it’s ‘not having run a marathon’ – and marks out the exact steps you need to take in order to Arrive at the thing you want – a specific new personal best or ‘having run a marathon’. Along the way you write out the keystones you need to act on in order to progress to the next. I’ll give you a silly example – Escape from having an untied shoe lace and Arrive at having a tied shoe lace.

First keystone would be to check that you’ve got the shoes on the correct feet. Next keystone, pick a shoe to tie – left or right. Next take a lace in each hand. Next place the left lace over the top of the right lace. Next, tuck the bottom lace under the top and pull through. Next, make a loop with the left end and squeeze tight at the bottom. Next, wrap the right end around the loop where you’re holding it. Next… you get the picture!

You can even take each keystone and map out an Escape and Arrival for that as well. This gives you the exact map for your perfect marathon and will stop you procrastinating in the run up and during the race. Most people procrastinate either because the don’t know where to start or because they get lost half way through and don’t know what to do next.

The Escape and Arrival framework takes both of these ambiguities away.


Just having your progress and the race plan mapped out in front of you will likely make you feel much better about performing on the day.

However, if you’re still feeling a little anxious, try some Super Suggestion. Super Suggestion works a little like post hypnotic suggestion, in that you place the feeling you want into your mind during a period of relaxation.

Self motivation concept. Negative words cut with scissors and became positive.

It’s been scientifically proven that if, when you feel nervous, you say three words to yourself – “I am excited” – your performance will be better. Super Suggestion can implant feelings of excitement into your mind when you need them.

Sit in a cool, calm location which is nice and quiet. Close your eyes and in your head count down from 20 to 1, then say “let go” whilst feeling all the tension drain out of each and every muscle in your body. Whilst in this relaxed state, breath steadily and repeat the feeling you want to implant over to yourself. Try to stay like this as long as you can, nice and relaxed, repeating the word to yourself. When you feel like you’ve had enough, simply count back up from 1 to 20 and then open your eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done 2 minutes or 20 minutes like this, you will have implanted the feeling into your mind.


Actually, I need to clarify this as Self Talk. Your internal monologue. You need to develop a positive self talk if you want to keep in the right frame of mind to be able to execute the Actions.

Post hypnotic suggestion can work the other way as well, negative self talk leads to negative feelings. Which lead to poor actions. Pay attention to the negative self talk you have about your training, racing or the London Marathon specifically. Note them down whenever you have a moment of negative self talk and read it back to yourself aloud. Listen to how irrational it sounds when doing this.

You must eradicate your negative self talk. Put yourself up or shut up.

There you have it, your performance for the London marathon mapped out using the 5 Points of Performance. Take some time to work the model through and don’t leave anything out.

Good luck on the day from James Parris and our team of therapists at Physio on the River!

Next steps…

If you would like to contact James Parris for more information on how he can help with sports performance please email him at If you would like to make a Physiotherapy appointment for a marathon injury then please call the clinic on 020 8876 5690 or email us here.

Running a marathon? Is sports massage a luxury or a necessity?


For most of us, running a marathon is a massive challenge and commitment. So the last thing you want is an injury that could force you to pull out before the big day.

Effective stretching – and if required Physiotherapy – can help you through to the finish line. Buy many runners are unaware of the physical and psychological benefits of sports massage when preparing for a marathon – maybe considering it a luxury.


Here we explain why regular sports massage should be a necessary part of your training plan.


Physical benefits:

    • Improves tissue permeability: this allows nutrients and oxygen to reach the cells quickly. Waste products such as lactic acid can be efficiently removed.
    • Improved flexibility: massage stretches the muscles and their surrounding soft tissues in all directions improving their flexibility.

Man Helping Female Athlete

  • Scar tissue breakdown: any injury heals with scar tissue, but if left alone the collagen fibres are laid down haphazardly. Massage helps to breakdown old scar tissue and positively influence the healing of any new injury.
  • Circulation: massage improves blood flow to the muscles which helps to keep them well oxygenated and in good condition.
  • Pain relief: the presence of waste products and tension within a muscle can be painful. Massage also releases the body’s natural endorphins producing pain care
  • Relaxation: by increasing the circulation, warming the muscles and soothing the nerve endings, massage can be a lovely relaxing experience.

Psychological benefits:

  • Reduces anxiety: soothing nature of massage and the release of chemicals and hormones that induce relaxation can relieve levels of stress.
  • Invigoration: brisk massage strokes performed just prior to an event can invigorate your body and make you feel energised for the work ahead!


What our sports massage experts recommend

Alice, Ruth and Bruno are three exceptional sports massage therapists on our team.

All three treat marathon runners on a regular basis.


Our therapists have worked as masseuses for marathon events and say they can tell if someone has been having regular massage during their training by the feel of the muscles they are massaging.

Sports massage during your training

During your marathon training they would recommend starting with a sports massage at least every other week for the first 4-6 weeks of training, then increasing to once per week during the peak of training.

H Your therapist will be able to identify where you are tight and can advise you how to stretch safely.  As well as keeping your body in good shape, massage can help in the mental preparation for the big day.
It will make you more aware of any niggles and tightness that may be starting to accumulate as your distance is increased and identify potential sites of injury.

Sports massage in the final week

It’s very helpful to get a massage during the final week before the marathon. This is the time to keep stretching, get as much rest as possible and eat well. But it can be a frustrating time as some people are itching to run!

And post marathon….

Don’t forget to book your post marathon massage for the week after the race. Massage helps the microscopic damage to your muscles repair. It will ease that post event soreness. Your body will need all the help it can get to recover fully.

What one of our clients training for the marathon has said about her sports massage experience…

“I have been a marathon runner on and off for the last 10 years but not run a full marathon for the last 4 years. I signed up for the London marathon and thought I had better have a physical MOT first.

I have used a lot of physios, chiropractors and osteopaths and massage therapists in my time and am always cautious as quality varies greatly. Diana put me in touch with Bruno. What can I say, it is heaven and hell at the same time but he’s worth it!

I don’t think I have ever had better massage treatment ever. Bruno gets straight to problem. It has greatly improved my approach to running. I look forward to it rather than worrying about what injuries I am going to get.

What I also like about Bruno is that he understands human nature, he knows you will do 90% of what he suggests but supports you anyway. Absolutely brilliant, what else can I say?”

Eilish Adams.

So, is sports massage a luxury or necessity when training for a marathon? Try it and see….


Save up to £62 – to claim offer DOWNLOAD VOUCHER

To book a sports massage block just:

Call us on 0208876 5690

Email us here

Book it online here

Or simply pop in for a chat!

If you enjoyed this blog do have a look at our other running blogs.

Running a marathon? Read our Physio, Nic Pugh’s marathon story


Earlier this week I interviewed Nic Pugh, one of our Physios who has decided to run the London Marathon for the first time.

Read on to find out how her first three months of training have gone and the highs and lows – even for the professionals!

Hello Nic. Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a  Physio here at Physio on the River. I also work at King’s College Hospital as an Extended Scope Practitioner  – which means my advanced skills see me work closely with the Orthopaedic and Rheumatology Consultants to manage musculoskeletal complaints.

I have also been a keen runner for the last 10 years. I live in Barnes and regularly run along the tow path nearby.
Nic Pugh

What inspired you to run the London Marathon this year?

Well I’ve done a number of 10k runs – about one every other year, but running the London Marathon has been a bucket list achievement I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember! I just decided that if I didn’t do it this year I never would.

My boyfriend is also running the marathon and we thought we could spur each other on. He runs a bit faster than I do so when we run ‘the two bridges’ we set off in opposite directions and high five half way round!

Which charity are you fund raising for?

Sourced from

Sourced from

I decided to choose a charity that would be relevant to many of my clients. So I chose Arthritis Research UK.

Arthritis is such a common condition which can be very painful and have a huge detrimental effect on people’s lives. There is much we don’t yet know about tackling the disease but also so much we can do to help these clients..

Arthritis Research promotes research into the cause and treatment of all forms of arthritis and helps us to get better at treating it.

Can you tell us when you started your training?

Picture of training plan from

Image sourced from


I received lots of information from the London Marathon including advice on training. Because I had done some running before, I pitched my training at the intermediate plan and started with great enthusiasm as suggested, in November.

They recommend that you run two short runs a week, spend one session on conditioning (strength, core, flexibility and balance) and do one longer run at weekends. The longer run increases by 2k each week.

Because I had run before and regularly done 10k I started running home from work (Clapham to Barnes 7K or Vauxhall to Barnes about 10K). The run was quite hilly from Clapham and the runs were mainly on the pavements – a hard surface.

Despite my professional knowledge, in hindsight I think I overestimated my capacity and started out too hard too fast.

I should have started on the beginner’s schedule and worked my way up through the training a bit more quickly instead.

By the end of November I was already injured!

Please explain a bit more about your injury?

I started getting Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome – what used to be called Shin Splints. Basically you get pain down the inside of your shin and it’s usually related to your biomechanics (the way you run and the alignment of your leg).

How did you get over your injury?

image sourced from

image sourced from

Firstly I asked our Podiatrist to take a look at my running pattern. He quickly identified that I was really overpronating (rolling my ankle inwards) on the left leg. My calves were very short and tight and I didn’t have good control of my core – my gluteal muscles (buttock muscles) in particular were weak and failing to control the rotation in my leg properly.

My trainers were quite old and had become a bit too worn to be doing a good job so I got a new pair of the same type.

A colleague at work gave me acupuncture and this greatly helped the pain. I also had a few sports massages – both for the increasing tension in my left shoulder muscles and to loosen up my tight calves.

On my part, I started Physio Rehab with glutes and core strengthening exercises. I used a foam roller to self-massage my calves and other main muscle groups in my legs and I spent more time stretching my calves.

I rested from running for 6 weeks.

Did you lose your form during this period?

No, because although I had to stop running I continued training by doing other things like gym classes and continuing with cycling, cross trainer and the rowing machine.

How did you restart your running?

I returned to running in January. I was very strict with myself and made sure I dropped my distance right back to 2-3k twice a week and a much shorter long run at weekends.

Although I felt I could have run further I resisted the temptation and stuck to the plan! I gradually worked my way back up to 10k twice weekly and increased my longer run by 2k each week to 22k this Sunday.

Last weekend I did the Bath Half Marathon so I’m back on schedule!

What have you learnt from your experience so far on the other side of the treatment couch so to speak?

Oh, I’ve learnt lots! The experience will definitely help me to help other marathon runners in the future.

  • Firstly I think if I had got one of my physio colleagues to assess me before I started training I could have identified my tight calves, faulty running pattern, weakness of my glutes and tension in my shoulders. I could then have started tackling those issues before starting and in conjunction with my early training.
  • I should have assessed my level as beginner and worked my way up to intermediate more swiftly than a true beginner. In other words erred on the side of caution.
  • It would have been wise to start with a fresh pair of running shoes and to get a Podiatrist to assess my gait.
  • As my training goes on I’ve booked myself in to see our sports massage therapist at regular intervals to keep my soft tissues in good condition as the stresses increase with higher training levels. At Physio on the River we have a great offer on at the moment – a course of 6 massages for the price of 5!
  • I’ve now started a core stability class regularly which I should have done months ago!

If you would like any physiotherapy advice on how to stay running fit, then call 0203 916 0286 or click here to contact us.

If you would like to support Nic and Arthritis Research UK please click here to go to her Just Giving page and donate to a fantastic cause!

Are you training to run a Marathon? Please share your training stories with us, just leave your comments below.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, take a look at our other running blogs such as:

10 top tips for injury free running

Running the marathon? Is massage a luxury or a necessity?

How Pilates is helping new mums to get back to running safely – post pregnancy

Running the London Marathon? Why it’s a good idea to get checked out by a Physio first.

London Marathon race day preparations

Voucher offer for marathon runners



6 sports massage sessions for the price of 5!


Book 6 x one hour sessions – SAVE £62


Book 6 x 30 minute sessions – SAVE £42



To book call our receptionist on 0203 916 0286



At your first appointment show this offer on your phone or print off and bring with you.


Running the London Marathon? Why it’s a good idea to get checked out by a Physio first

Thousands of people will be doing the London Marathon for the first time this April. Some will be experienced runners ready for a challenge and others may be relatively new to running and may not fully appreciate the stresses and strains put on the body with such a repetitive sport.

So how can a Physio help me?

Physios are trained to analyse the way we move and to be able to identify when someone is not using the best strategy. I’m sure you’ve noticed many different running styles!

My husband always laughs at the way I point out to him runners in Richmond Park who have quirky habits that I know may well lead to trouble later on. Some are obvious asymmetries like an exaggerated kick out to the side that even my husband can spot! But others have small, subtle variations that, when repeated over time, can be just as troublesome.

As well as looking at someone’s overall style of running we can then break our assessment down into much finer focus.

sourced from

sourced from

Flexibility:  Sometimes an old niggle which has not been properly resolved can lead to joint stiffness. Or you can just be on the stiffer end of the flexibility scale. Some runners can be hypermobile (too flexible) meaning they can have issues in controlling their limbs sufficiently. We examine your range of joint movement to ensure you have sufficient flexibility in your body to run fluidly.

sourced from

sourced from

Core strength: It is very important that the deep postural muscles of the trunk – like the deep abdominals, back and shoulder blade muscles – are doing a good job. If you lack this ‘core stability’ then there is no firm platform from which your leg and arm muscles can work from. The pelvis and shoulder girdle and surrounding muscles provide this platform. We will check all the deep postural areas.

sourced from

sourced from

Power: Strength in your lower limbs is important if you are to avoid injury. Being such a long race you need endurance too.




sourced from

sourced from

Postural symmetry: Simple things like favouring one side of your body and leaning too much one way can lead to problems on one side. We will look at the symmetry of your body and make sure your alignment is as good as it can be.



sourced from

sourced from

Muscle length and tightness: We look at the length of your muscles to check you are not overly tight in one or two muscle groups – or that you have tightness in one side of your body.

We check your general fitness too – no good having the legs for it but no puff!

It is true that some runners have a very strange running style that never gives them any bother – take Paula Radcliffe and her waggling head! But in general some simple advice and correction given at the start can greatly reduce your risk of developing a problem during your training period up to the marathon and beyond. So if you have just signed up – contact the clinic and book an appointment to get checked out.

If you have enjoyed this have a look at our other running blogs!

London Marathon – race day preparations

With just a few weeks to go until the London Marathon you should be thinking carefully about your race day preparations. Here are some top tips to help you through what may be one of the most memorable days of your life.

  • Eating and drinking – experts advise eating about 2-4 hours before the race starts is the best way to fuel up. Your meal should include a little fat and protein and lots of carbohydrates. For example it could be porridge, toast and scrambled egg or a bagel with peanut butter and a banana. If you feel too nervous to eat then at least have an energy drink or smoothie.
  • image sourced from

    image sourced from

    Race day kit – make sure you have practised running in your race day kit. Choose clothing with flat seams that reduce the risk of chaffing. Breathable fabrics will keep you dry and comfortable. Make sure the fit is loose enough to give air circulation but not too loose that straps fall down or excess fabric causes chaffing. Keep an eye on the weather forecast so you have the right clothing for the conditions. The race starts in the morning when it’s cooler but don’t be tempted to wear too much as you will soon warm up and the day’s temperature will increase. If you are prone to chaffing apply some petroleum jelly liberally on all moving parts such as inner thighs.

  • Keeping warm on the start line – there’s often a lot of waiting around on the start line and it is important to keep warm and dry. Cut holes for arms and head in a black bin liner for an easy layer that can be shed once the race gets going. Alternatively, wear something old that you don’t mind discarding along the way.
  • Getting enough rest – most people are too nervous to get a good night’s sleep before the marathon so make sure you go to bed early two nights before.
  • Image sourced from

    Image sourced from

    Water intake – make sure you start increasing your water intake a few days before the race. You can check that you are adequately hydrated by monitoring your urine – it should be a light straw colour. You don’t want to increase fluids hugely just before the race or it will leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Instead drink about 8-10 ozs of a sports drink 10 minutes before the race starts and then about 5-6 ozs every 2 miles.

  • Nails – remember to cut your toe nails straight across and shorter than the tips of your toes to prevent them ending up black and bruised.
  • Sunscreen – don’t forget to apply sunscreen if the weather is set fair.
  • Stick to your race plan – it is easy to get swept along by the atmosphere and adrenalin of the day and set off too fast. Make a race plan and stick to it! A pace just 2% faster than usual at the start can cause you to struggle in the final 6 miles of the race.

If you enjoyed reading this then take a look at our other running blogs!

10 top tips for injury free running

Whether you just run for fun or are a hardened marathon runner we’ve put together some simple tips to keep you free of injury and help you set up some good training habits for life:

  1. Footwear: invest in quality running shoes which should last 300-800 miles of running. Find a specialist running shop where you can get good advice. It’s important to buy the correct sort of shoe for your foot type. Not many of us have the perfect neutral foot – most of us roll our ankles in or out too much. Our Physiotherapists and Podiatrist can give appropriate advice on footwear.
  2. Physiotherapy assessment: if you are a novice marathon runner we highly recommend that you come in for an assessment of your alignment, posture, flexibility, strength and core control. Most injuries are left too long before seeking advice. Most potential problems can be identified and addressed before you develop an injury.
  3. Flexibility: stretch your muscles after running to prevent the muscles from becoming tight from overuse. To help flexibility a 10 minute session of all over stretching done twice a week will enhance your running performance.
  4. Resistance training: to be a good runner it’s important that running forms a large part of your training, but don’t forget other aspects of good conditioning. Increasing overall strength with two all over resistance training sessions per week will reap benefits.
  5. Core stability training: core stability muscles are your deep abdominal, back and pelvis muscles. These muscles provide a firm platform for your leg and arm muscles to work. Effective core stability helps improve posture, balance and co-ordination, makes it easier to generate speed and prevents injury. We run Pilates classes or 1-2-1 tuition.
  6. Sports Massage in BarnesSports massage:  regular sports massage can greatly help the condition of your soft tissues. Massage flushes out toxins, relieves muscle tension, releases knotty areas of scar tissue and boosts the circulation. We recommend a massage every week whilst training and one following a race. Our Massage Therapists have many years of experience treating marathon and leisure runners.
  7. Training after injury: if you take a break from training due to illness or injury, when you resume, remember to drop back initially and then gradually increase again. Be guided by the 10% rule – increase by no more than 10% each week.
  8. Don’t race too often: racing takes much more out of your body than your usual training does. Choose a maximum of two events a year.
  9. Heart rate monitor: a HRM will help you to train at the correct intensity for every workout.
  10. Good diet: a good balanced diet is essential. For further guidance we can recommend a Sports Nutritionist.

So, don’t forget that training shouldn’t just mean practising running. Strength, flexibility and core stability training should also be included in order to improve your overall body condition and prevent injury.

If you enjoyed this then take a look at our other running blogs!

  • Physio on the River
    The Old Ticket Office
    Barnes Bridge
    The Terrace
    SW13 0NP
  • Opening Hours

    Mon: 7am – 9pm
    Tues: 8am – 9pm
    Wed: 7am – 9pm
    Thurs: 8am – 9pm
    Fri: 7.30am – 7pm
    Sat: 8am – 2.30pm
    Sun: Closed

Get our latest offers, updates on services and health tips