6 Top Tips to avoid injury when Marathon Training

As a physiotherapist with experience working with runners, Emma Dunnett has seen many injuries that can occur during marathon training. Anterior knee pain, runners knee, and tendon injuries are all common injuries that can occur if proper training and precautions are not taken.

In this blog, I will outline 6 tips to avoid injury when training for a marathon.

Gradual Progression

One of the most important tips to avoid injury when training for a marathon is to gradually progress your training. This includes both the distance and intensity of your runs. Increasing your mileage or pace too quickly can lead to overuse injuries and additionally, progressing too many factors at once, such as increasing your distance and pace simultaneously, can also create the perfect recipe for potential injuries.
To prevent this, start with a conservative training plan and gradually increase your mileage or pace. It is recommended to increase your mileage by no more than 10% per week to avoid overuse injuries. It would be useful to get support from a coach or training plan to guide you through these progressions appropriately, where your physiotherapist can signpost you to an appropriate coach if required.

Strength Training

Strength training is an essential component of marathon training to support the hips, knees and ankles, which in turn helps you to remain both robust to the demands of training but also, helps to prevent common running injuries, as aforementioned. Including exercises that target the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves in your training plan will form a large part of your strengthening programme and aid in preventing injury. This can be done through a variety of exercise such as weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, or resistance band exercises, all of which your physiotherapist can guide you through.

Proper Footwear

Choosing the correct footwear for you is crucial in preventing injuries during marathon training. I want to highlight that this is appropriate footwear for you, which will be different for everyone. This also means not choosing a shoe because it is the latest trend, but most importantly, a shoe which fits your needs. Wearing shoes that are worn out or do not provide enough support can lead to additional stresses or strains of the lower leg, particularly the ankle or knee.

Invest in a good pair of running shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your training and also, for the terrain that you intend to run on.. It is recommended to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles to maintain proper support so from personal experience, try not to walk too much in your running trainers as that tops up those miles pretty quickly!

Proper Running Form

Running form or posture is a rather taboo topic in the running world as, what is classed as a proper running form? I suggest that if you are injury free and running well, then chances are your running form is suiting you well. This is based upon your individual biomechanics and adopting a running gait which is comfortable for you.

There are, however, some occasions where your running gait may be altered slightly in order to support performance or efficiency of your running. This will be analysed on an individual basis and can be done by a running specialist physiotherapist.

If there are elements of your running gait that need to be addressed, incorporating strength and mobility exercises can support these changes.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are just as important as training when it comes to avoiding injuries during marathon training. Overtraining can lead to injuries not only due to overloading of your joints, but also due to fatigue. Fatigue caused by inadequate recovery and sleep has a big impact on our body’s ability to recover especially after big sessions. It is important that recovery plays a role in your training plan, maybe even the most important part of your training.

Include rest days in your training plan to allow your body to recover. Cross-training activities such as swimming or cycling can also help to reduce your weekly load/impact through your joints and also acts as a nice alternative during heavy running weeks.

Listen to Your Body

Lastly, listening to your body is crucial in preventing injuries during marathon training. If you experience pain or discomfort during training, it is important to address it and adjust your training plan accordingly. Avoid pushing through pain or discomfort as it may lead to more serious injuries. In these cases, rest, ice, and seek professional advice from a physiotherapist if necessary to prevent any sore areas from falling into injury territory.

In conclusion, marathon training can be a rewarding but challenging experience. To avoid injuries such as anterior knee pain, runners knee, and tendonitis, it is important to consider these 6 tips: gradual progression, strength training, proper footwear, proper running form, rest and recovery, and listening to your body. By taking these precautions, you can prevent injuries and, most importantly, achieve your marathon goals.

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