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Top 12 Tips For An Injury-Free Marathon Training

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As you progress through marathon training, particularly during longer runs, it becomes increasingly difficult; hence, the last thing you desire is an injury impeding your progress.

1. Remain committed to your plan.

In the latter stages of marathon training, the temptation to deviate from your plan and include some additional runs may arise in order to ensure preparedness. However, this can lead to hazardous circumstances.

It is not recommended to increase your total weekly volume by more than 10% each week, and it is also unwise to significantly increase the mileage on a long run, such as going from 13 miles to 18 miles in one week.

By not allowing enough time for your joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to gradually adapt to the increased volume, the magnitude of this increase is inviting trouble. Despite having a sensible approach to running training, the risk of injury will escalate along with the increase in long runs.

2. Arrange a Sports Massage appointment.

Running coach George Anderson always advises his clients to schedule appointments with a massage therapist every two weeks, as it will always bring benefits. Engaging in specific sports massages not only helps to release any muscle tightness or knots but also creates an opportunity for individuals to address any concerns they may have with their massage therapist.

If you are unable to do that, make sure to utilize a sturdy foam roller for a few minutes daily and consistently stretch after every run.

3. Show respect for the long term.

After a long run, it is advisable to take it easy and avoid attempting a hard speed session the following day. Instead, opt for a gentle recovery run to keep the legs active or engage in low resistance activities such as using the cross-trainer or stationary bike.

“Ensure to rest after every long run,” advises Surrey Physio physiotherapist Tim Allardyce. “Avoid running two consecutive days after completing a long run, unless your body is accustomed to this form of training.”

4. Avoid attempting to compensate for the time that has been lost.

According to Allardyce, if you missed a few long runs, it is not recommended to try to do all of them in the last few weeks of training. This practice of overtraining is a major cause of injuries. Trying to fit in additional runs as a last-minute effort to improve endurance will likely result in problems.

If you miss some sessions, don’t attempt to cram everything in at the last minute, as it won’t be beneficial – running a marathon is similar to studying for an exam, where consistency is key.

Consider the global aspect.

As race day approaches, you become more susceptible; thus, you must consider the overall perspective and concentrate not only on your training but also on obtaining adequate rest, nutrition, and sleep.

According to Anderson, if you are preparing for an April marathon, it is important to think about the fact that this is the time when you are exposed to the highest level of intensity and volume. Therefore, you should prioritize taking care of other factors that will enhance your ability to recover, such as sleep, nutrition, body conditioning, and massage.

Ensure that you remain calm and composed.

It is crucial to regularly check in with your feelings, but it is common to become overly concerned about occasional minor discomforts, which could be insignificant or unrelated to running, especially if you have a sedentary job.

Anderson advises to pay attention to your body and understand that a minor discomfort at present is not equivalent to a minor discomfort from 10 weeks ago. It is important to be more mindful of your body and consciously decide if it is necessary to see a physiotherapist sooner rather than ignoring the discomfort.

According to Anderson, it is important to address any concerns or doubts regarding injuries, especially when preparing for a significant race. He advises seeking professional advice to alleviate worries and ensure peace of mind. For individuals who tend to be overly cautious about minor aches and pains, incorporating regular massage or chiropractic sessions into their routine could be highly advantageous.

7. Make sure not to overlook the taper.

As long as your longest run falls within the range of 18-22 miles, you will be prepared for race day. Tapering refers to reducing your mileage during the final three weeks before the race to allow your body to arrive at the starting line feeling rested, without the risk of being overtrained or injured.

It is not advantageous to engage in intense or extensive training sessions in the last weeks leading up to race day as it will not improve your fitness level and may even heighten the chances of getting injured. Plan your last long run three weeks prior to race day, making sure not to exceed a duration of three hours and 15 minutes.

In the two weeks leading up to the event, decrease your training workload to 50-70% of your usual amount. Additionally, ensure that your long run does not exceed two hours. During the last week, focus on shorter and relaxed runs that do not exceed 30 minutes.

8. Gradual Progression

When it comes to increasing the distance of long runs and overall weekly mileage, there is a general guideline to follow. This guideline is known as the 10% Rule, which states that long runs and overall weekly mileage should only be increased by a maximum of 10 percent each week.

Although there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness in preventing injuries, incorporating this element into training plans is widely accepted and proven. Adhering to this practice is particularly beneficial for those who are overly ambitious and have a tendency to exceed their limits.

If you are new to running, it is recommended to set realistic goals such as completing a 5k, then a 10k, and finally a half marathon before attempting a full 26.2 miles. While going from being sedentary to running a marathon is possible, only a few people achieve it successfully; the majority experience burn-out, fatigue, and/or injury.

9. Training Plan

For those who are new to marathon running, it is highly recommended to adhere to a training plan. Numerous sources, such as,, and, offer training plans that can be accessed online. These plans cater to different types of runners, ranging from beginners to more experienced individuals.

Most plans typically last for 20-24 weeks and involve scheduled runs or cross training workouts on most days of the week. It is advisable to run a weekly mileage of at least 15-20 miles in the months leading up to starting the plan. Additionally, it may be beneficial to slightly modify the plan and allow yourself more time than the designated number of weeks.

Make sure to schedule additional days or weeks for yourself to account for situations like family commitments, work obligations, travel, illness, or injuries, which may cause you to miss running sessions. By doing so, you can avoid feeling stressed when you cannot run for a few days occasionally. Keep in mind that each individual is unique, and what may work for your running companion might not be effective for you.

10. Nutrition

Just because you are preparing for a marathon, it does not imply that you can indulge in burgers, fries, and sweets! While you may be expending a considerable amount of calories, it is crucial to nourish your body adequately in order to maintain good health and optimize your training. The solution lies in consuming healthy whole foods.

While it is acceptable to enjoy yourself, it is crucial to maintain moderation. It is crucial to consume calories when engaging in physical activity for a prolonged period, particularly if the activity lasts over 60-90 minutes or extends beyond three hours. This practice enhances performance and safeguards against experiencing the unpleasant “bonk”.

To avoid potential issues and ensure a successful marathon, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with calorie intake during training runs rather than experimenting with new food or drink on race day. Many marathon runners unfortunately face negative consequences, not necessarily at the race’s end, as a result of consuming unfamiliar products.

In order to get familiar with the products before the race, it is important to discover the contents of the feed stations and incorporate those items into your training routine. If the stations do not provide your preferred or accustomed nutrition, it is advisable to bring your own.

11. Drink to Thirst

The primary focus during a marathon is to avoid overhydration, even though it is essential to ensure adequate hydration. Until recently, the conventional recommendation for marathon hydration was to consume a specific quantity of liquids every certain number of minutes.

The new norm is to drink according to our thirst. It is acceptable for everyone to be slightly dehydrated after the race, and this is not a significant issue. The winners of marathons are typically dehydrated between two to four percent at the end, which implies that regular individuals like us can also tolerate a small reduction in fluid levels.

If you have already established a working system, feel free to continue using it. However, for newcomers to marathon training, be cautious about excessive fluid intake. This can lead to a condition known as Exercise-Associated hyponatremia (EAH).

Hyponatremia refers to the condition of having low sodium levels in your body fluids. Athletes who drink excessive amounts of fluids cause an electrolyte imbalance, mainly affecting sodium levels, which can result in hyponatremia. Experienced symptoms include nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and in severe cases, it can lead to death.

Although it requires a significant amount of fluids to reach that stage, it has occurred multiple times in the past. However, it is important to remember that regardless of any claims or articles, sports drinks (specifically those with electrolytes and carbohydrates) cannot prevent hyponatremia. Despite containing electrolytes, they do not contain sufficient amounts to compensate for the loss.

Follow your thirst and drink while you continue, especially during your long runs. In case you are concerned about overheating or hyperthermia, consider pouring water over your head to cool down instead of drinking it as this method is more efficient.

12. Listen to your Body

It is important to be aware of when you should take a break and when you can continue. If you experience minor discomfort that lasts for only a few seconds or up to two days, it is likely not something to worry about. However, if you feel pain that causes you to stop during a run or continues despite resting for a few days, it is advisable to seek evaluation from a skilled physician specializing in musculoskeletal diagnosis, such as in Sports Medicine or Orthopedic Surgery.

Catching injuries early is the most advantageous approach. Taking some rest and undergoing rehabilitation in the early stages provides the greatest opportunity for a speedy recovery, enabling you to resume your activities without pain. Neglecting the injury and powering through it heightens the likelihood of exacerbating it and enduring a prolonged and protracted struggle against it. The longer injuries persist, the lengthier the healing process tends to be.

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