So you want to run a Marathon?
The London Marathon saw over 36,000 runners of all ages and abilities participate, it included world record holders, celebrities, fund raisers and those who just want to soak up the experience. If you are thinking that this could be you next year or even later this year in another long distance or endurance event then check out this article for advice on how to get there.
Average times for a first Marathon are roughly between four and five hours depending on your past and current fitness levels, this is a mammoth task for anyone and just finishing is a fantastic and worthwhile achievement.
Running for this length of time is no easy task and will take months of hard training. One of the biggest challenges whilst preparing for the marathon is avoiding illness and injury. Statistics show that over 30% of entrants never make it to the start line.
An overuse injury can be caused by repetitive movements such as too much running, this creates micro-traumas which over time build up and overload your joints and tendons. This may lead to pain in your back, hips, knees or Achilles. Causes may relate to intrinsic or extrinsic factors, but usually there is a combination of both.
Intrinsic causes may originate from muscular imbalance, strength deficits, poor flexibility and abnormalities of ‘gait’; all of these can alter the way you run. Extrinsic causes may lie with the surfaces you are training upon, your footwear, weather conditions or the training programme you have set.Trauma can be caused by an accident such as a trip or fall whilst running and can be more difficult to prevent. There are many controllable factors during the preparation phase which can reduce your risk of pre-event injury.
Muscular imbalance should be addressed to ensure correct movement patterns are formed allowing the individual to run efficiently. I recommend a weekly pre-habilitation programme which focuses on specific deficiencies. These may include gluteal activation; slow heavy strengthening of hamstrings, calves, and trunk stabilisation ‘core’.
A big mistake many runners make is thinking that their running takes care of leg strength; unfortunately, this is not the case which is why many who participate endure injury as a consequence. Regular resistance exercise has been shown to develop strength and capacity in muscle, tendon, ligament and bone; thus it provides a certain degree of protection against injury. Even body weight exercises such as squats and lunges can be effective.
Ensure you make time to stretch or use a foam roller; these should be separate sessions of 20-30 minutes and not just quick stretches before you run. Take your time and make it count, attention to detail will serve you well. Common areas of tightness are low back, adductors, hamstrings, hip flexors, IT Band, quadriceps and calves. Additionally a regular sports massage can assist in recovering from those long training runs.
Don’t just run to improve your cardio-vascular fitness, try completing interval sessions on a static bike, rower or x-trainer. Vary your pace, intensity and recovery to develop your overall fitness. You may want to use a heart-rate monitor to allow you to train at different intensities. Variety in training will keep you interested whilst lowering those impact miles. Monitoring your heart rate will ensure you are training within limits and not pushing too hard.
Top 10 Tips - Preparing for a Marathon
1. Plan for the event
2. Plan a progressive training plan
3. Address muscular imbalances
4. Don’t just run do strength training
5. Improve flexibility
7. Get medical advice if you take medication 8. Fuel using low glycaemic index foods
9. Hydration is vital
10. Soak up the Atmosphere and enjoy!