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.
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?
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?
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?
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 020 8876 5690 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.
Our running clinic specialists can give you a running assessment and advise on improving running performance, avoiding injury and recovering from problems.
Other running articles by our specialists
- How to get the marathon result you want and know you deserve!
- Getting your nutrition and hydration right on marathon race day
- Running a marathon? Is sports massage a luxury or a necessity?
- Running a marathon? Read our Physio, Nic Pugh’s marathon story
- Voucher offer for marathon runners
- Running the London Marathon? Why it’s a good idea to get checked out by a Physio first
- London Marathon – race day preparations
- 10 top tips for injury free running