How to Avoid Injury When Training For A Marathon

When training for a long distance run, it is easy to get carried away and go overboard with the amount of training you do, or even overlook certain areas. Discover the most common causes of injuries and get expert advice on how to avoid them.

Picture the scene; for months you’ve been training for your upcoming race, putting in the time and effort, through all the seasons and elements and balancing your work and life commitments, knowing that you have to do it all again tomorrow. 

But as race day approaches, the last thing you need is a frustrating injury that’s going to put your training on hold, or worse, force you to miss the event entirely. 

Almost all long distance running related injuries are down to one thing; poorly structured training programs.

We frequently see runners come into the clinic with injuries because they increased their weekly mileage too quickly. 

This is even common with the most experienced of runners. However, there are tips and tricks you can do to reduce the risk of an overload’ injury — which is essentially an injury caused by doing too much training over too short-a-period of time, and therefore asking the body to do more than it’s capable of. 

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Who is more likely to get injured when training for a marathon or long distance race? #

In Denmark, over 800 runners took part in a study which found that the novice runners were more likely to develop a long distance running related injury, like Achilles tendinopathy, patellofemoral joint pain, otherwise known as runner’s knee’, or shin splints for example, if they increased their weekly mileage by more than 30%. 

But the runners who increased their weekly mileage by less than 10% were less likely to sustain an injury during their training. 

The number of years a person has been running will also often play a factor in the onset of niggles and injuries because their bodies will be more prepared for the demands of running.

Many who train for events like the London Marathon or Asics London — especially newer runners — have been known to manage 40 to 50 miles per week towards the final stages of a 4 month training plan before niggles and injuries set in. 

The elite runners on the other hand could be found running 70 to 100 miles per week with no problems at all. This is because their bodies (muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints) had developed the ability, robustness and strength to withstand the training loads and demands put upon their bodies over the 70 to 100 miles per week. 

For non elite runners and those taking part in their first event, when their weekly training mileage exceeded 50 miles, can often feel their body begin to breakdown and niggles start to set in. At that point you have to reduce the mileage accordingly which can be mentally difficult and feel counterproductive but it is definitely the correct thing to do. 

How can I reduce my chances of getting a running related injury? #

Another way to reduce the risk of injury and to increase the body’s robustness to running training loads and mileage is to become stronger. 

A running specific Strength and Conditioning programme will help every long distance runner, be it a professional Marathon runner or a casual weekend runner. This will help maintain good running form and therefore make the body more energy efficient. 

Good running strength will also increase the body’s ability to withstand the high levels of force put upon its tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints during training.

Appropriate running footwear is also a key consideration when trying to reduce the risk of a running related injury. There is no best’ brand of running trainer and no particular running trainer I can recommend over another.

However, the main thing to think about when buying a pair of running trainers is the fit — do you have a narrow or wide foot or somewhere in between, and therefore do the trainers fit your foot type appropriately? Do you require a neutral or anti pronating supportive trainer? Is the cushioning appropriate to your running style and type of terrain you are running on? 

We find the team approach to be a very effective way of guiding people through training programs in order for them to progress and develop into a more efficient and stronger runner.

Our highly experienced Physiotherapists, Strength and Conditioning coaches, and experienced running experts work closely together, creating and implementing training programmes for all types of runners with varying personal goals, and our team of Podiatrists can analyse your foot type and running gait (which is the way you run and how your feet strike the ground) to advise on the best type of running trainers for you.

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How to factor-in recovery to your training plan #

Another very significant part to anyone’s training plan is recovery! 

After all the miles and time spent training in the gym your body needs time to recover and adapt to the training stimulus. This includes appropriate rest, refuelling, sleep and Soft Tissue Therapy.

Soft Tissue Therapy can help ease muscle tension and discomfort from the heavy training volumes. Soft Tissue Therapists are excellent at helping runners ease their muscular tension and tightness which ultimately aids recovery.

Another way of promoting your body’s recovery and helping to avoid injury is to add in a de-load’ week every 3 – 4 weeks during your training. This is when the weeks training volume drops by 40 – 50% on the previous week.

It is also important to make sure you are replacing the calories and nutrients used during training with appropriate nutrition.

Finally, be sure to also get enough shut eye by catching plenty of zzz’s between training sessions too. Studies have shown a significant reduction in injury rates amongst athletes who manage 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night compared to those who only managed less then 7 hours of sleep per night.

Top tips to help you avoid common running injuries #

1. Follow a specialised training plan from an experienced running coach.

2. Increase your mileage by 10% or less per week.

3. Incorporate a good running specific Strength and Conditioning programme into your training plan.

4. Wear appropriate running trainers that fit your individual foot shape and running type.

5. Get plenty of good quality sleep, nutrition and recovery between training sessions.

Are you training for a marathon or other type of long distance running race? We can help guide you through a tailored training plan, and even assess the way you run to help you get the most out of your training and be ready for race day. 

Get in touch to find out how we can help