A large number of people are beginning their training plans for the marathon. Often we see a significant increase of running injuries in late March and early April, around the time people are reaching their peak distances in their training. This blog post explains why people brake down from injury and what they can do to avoid this.
First and foremost start your training early! Most of the injuries we see come from people beginning their training too late in the year and then needing to make quick increases of distance over a short period of time. In my opinion 16 or 17 week programmes are not long enough for a beginner to progress their running up to 26 miles. The programme should allow very steady progression with some recovery weeks to allow your body to cope and adapt to the increased running.
Get strong. A lot of the patients that come into the SSi clinic with running injuries often demonstrate weakness in key muscles (such as the gluteal muscles) and this has contributed to poor movement patterns that then results in injury. Make sure you work on your general strength to keep both the knees and hips strong. A core training focus should also be incorporated within these exercises. In our exercise library we have a strength for running exercise sheet (under the 'hip' title) that starts you off. However, you should seek advice on appropriate exercises and also on your form when performing them. Contact us if you’d like to check the suitability of the exercises.
Keep it simple. When people look in to running technique, training plans, footwear, etc. they find masses of information that can be confusing and even contradictory. Basic advice of wearing comfortable well fitting trainers (as opposed to old or loose fitting) and a running style that feels natural and comfortable to you often works well. If you’re a beginner then we find people receive little benefit in attempting to ‘mid foot’ or ‘fore foot’ or ‘bare foot’ run. These aspects apply more to people who are running as a sport and should only be attempted with good quality coaching. ‘Bare’ in mind that even then not everyone gains from these styles, some do very well with a good old-fashioned heel strike. Have a simple training plan with 2-3 runs a week and time for strength based training, and allow at lest one of those runs to progress in distance steadily. Finally, give careful thought to recovery times; remember you get fitter by recovering from exercise, not from simply performing it.
Get advice early. If you’re new to developing a running plan seek advice from a trained professional. This often helps people to develop realistic running plans and can reduce the chance of injury. If you begin to experience discomforts or niggles then asking for guidance on whether this is a normal expected part of progressing your plan can be helpful. It stops people from ignoring a ‘warning’ sign and then continuing until the pain stops them completely. Often when we catch pain complaints early things can be well managed with less disruption to the training schedule. The longer a pain complaint has been in play, the more complicated it can be to resolve.