The London Marathon ballot results are in and many lucky runners are starting that all-important training schedule. It’s hard to ignore the one thought that people have sitting in the back of their minds. What if I get injured before the race?
Marathon training is a tough process both mentally and on your body. You hear countless stories of people becoming injured during their marathon training and often tragically right before the event itself.
What can you do to stay injury free during training?
1. Make sure you have the right shoes!
So many people start their marathon journey simply wearing the wrong footwear or worn out footwear. Go to your local running shop and get fitted properly as they will know the best type of shoe to fit your running style. You don’t want to be wearing minimalist shoes for example when you really need a supportive shoe! Keeping a tally of your mileage can also help keep track of when it is time to get a new pair of shoes, about 400–500 miles should be your maximum in one pair.
2. Don’t just focus on training. Both sleep and nutrition is just as important.
Without rest and fuel you can’t train properly and if the body is worn out or lacking in energy then it is more likely to encounter an injury. Ensure you are eating enough good nutrient calories to sustain your training load and getting a good 8–9 hours of sleep a night to let your body reap the benefits of your hard work.
3. Keep on top of stretching and foam rolling
If you can afford it, getting a regular sports massage will be highly beneficial – keeping your muscles in good form and also having someone on the look out for any nasty niggles that could start occurring. If not, regular stretching and foam rolling will be just as good both after your run and on non-training days.
4. Don’t rush into it!
A lot of people don’t stick to their training plan and up the mileage far too quickly, which results quickly in injury. In the annoying situation that you get ill or something gets in the way don’t just skip from one-missed weeks worth of training straight to the next. Ensure you up your distance safely week by week.
5. Taper correctly
It may seem a good idea to get in some big last minute miles before race day but tapering properly will allow your legs to be fresh and ready to go! Doing hard or long sessions the final two weeks before won’t have any benefit on your fitness at this stage and by now you should have dropped your volume down to about 50–60%.
6. Listen to your body
Even though you need to be sticking to your training schedule the best that you can, you also have to listen to your body. Adapt your plan as appropriate if your body is sore or fatigued. For example instead of running 10km in the week take an extra day off and put more effort into your weekend long run or speed session.
Time is precious, and once the big miles start creeping it will become less and less. However, finding the time to add in cross training activities and strength training to your plan will help prevent injury and also help you not get bored of just running continuously.
In the event that you do get injured during your training seek professional help as soon as possible. Don’t rush back into training too soon as you can often make things worse. Most races will allow you to defer your place to the next year and there are always other races on the cards. Be smart with your training and recovery and you won’t need to think about this at all!