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Top 10 Tips to running a Marathon

The London Marathon 2020 is fast approaching! Hopefully, for all those novice runners who have secured their place, training is in full swing. 

As an experienced marathon runner myself and a Chartered Physiotherapist who has witnessed first hand the common training errors linked to running, here are my Top 10 tips in preparation for the big day!

1. Warm Up

  • Warming up prepares the body for physical activity, enhances performance and reduces the risk of injury. It prevents a rapid rise in blood pressure, improves blood flow to the heart and makes muscles more pliable. Start with ‘dynamic’ stretching prior to your run working the joint through its full available range of motion.

2. Cool Down

  • It is important to cool down and stretch all major muscle groups after exercise to maintain muscle length and promote flexibility, which may reduce the risk of injury. A cool down should consist of 10-15 minutes of low intensity exercise and stretching.
  • Each stretch should be held for 20 seconds

3. Change Running Surface

  • Where possible, vary your terrain. Running on grass or trail tracks places less stress on your joints and helps to build muscle strength and tone. Incorporate road running into your training to adjust to the impact of running and to prepare you for the race event.

4. Footwear

  • It is important to invest in trainers that are designed for the style of runner you are and that correct for any biomechanical fault to provide adequate cushioning and shock absorption. These will not only aid performance but also help to prevent injury.
  • If you are in London, visit one of your nearest Runners Need store (www.runnersneed.co.uk) for a running assessment on a treadmill to determine the appropriate trainer for your foot type prior to starting your marathon training.
  • Change your trainers every 400 miles and never wear brand new trainers on race day! Always break them in for at least 3 weeks prior to your race event.

5. Optimise your training

  • To get the best of both cardiovascular and strength gains, run 3 x week and commit to a strength and conditioning programme 2 x week with 2 rest days for muscle recovery. Incorporating resistance training is the most effective complimentary training tool with a known 50% reduction in overuse injuries.
  • For marathon training, run no more than 40 miles/week; current research indicates that more increases your risk of injury
  • Introduce swimming, cycling or a cross trainer as your rest days from running to reduce joint loading, prevent injury and keep you motivated!

6. Plan your key runs

  • Set yourself a target to run a 5km, 10km and half marathon event to prepare yourself for race conditions (racing in a crowd), to push yourself with varying distances and speeds and to pace yourself for when the adrenaline is pumping!
  • If you are aiming for a specific marathon time, incorporate some shorter runs each week, increasing the speed to get your heart rate up and your time down!

7. Listen to your body

  • While aches and pains may be your body adjusting to the demands of training, it is important to not ignore these potential ‘warning’ signals and seek the advice of a Chartered Physiotherapist if aches and pains are increasing in intensity and duration.
  • Marie Daniels Physiotherapy (info@mariedanielsphysio.com) offers a 20 minute FREE MOT assessment to identify the likelihood of any potential injury. This would include a thorough assessment with education in good posture, biomechanics, nutrition, footwear, strength training and flexibility. 
  • Seeking expert advice at the start could avoid a lot of pain and disappointment due to injury and ensure that time, energy and effort invested into training has not been in vain!

8. Keep hydrated and well fuelled

  • During your marathon training, trial various drinks, energy gels and bars to maintain energy and fuel levels. It may take time for your body to adjust but they will help prevent you ‘hitting the wall!’ My personal favourites are jelly babies as they are easy to digest and taste great!
  • Find out what the race organisers provide at the drinks stations so that you can start drinking these products and get used to them during your training.
  • Don’t take anything different on race day – so if you aren’t used to drinking Lucozade gels or Gatorade products, don’t touch them as it will lead to upset stomachs and affect your performance in a negative way. Trust me…I know! Stick to water.

9. Taper for 3 weeks before the marathon

  • Gradually taper your training to enable your body to fully recover and be well rested on marathon day.
  • You should maintain your normal training throughout the final 3 weeks, but you should gradually decrease your workout time.
  • For novice runners, subscribe to ‘Runners World’ magazine for a training and tapering programme.

10. Run your own race in the Marathon

  • You’ve trained hard -Stick to your pre-planned race pace rather than keeping up with faster runners at the start – a common mistake!
  • 2 minutes too quickly in the first half when you are feeling great can be a costly 30 minutes- 1 hour in the second half!

For further advice or to book your FREE 20 minute MOT appointment with Marie, call 07920112209 or e-mail info@mariedanielsphysio.com