Marathon mistakes

Marathon mistakes

running right

Marathon mistakes

The first time I trained for a marathon, I was 21 years old and had never suffered an injury in my life. My plan? To run farther each time I went out and to keep going for as long as possible.

My fitness improved rapidly and I loved the freedom that running offered. So, when an experienced runner friend suggested I take things more gently, I was nonplussed.

The toughest part of any marathon, he insisted, was arriving on the start line
uninjured and fit to race. And that battle, as it turned out, was one I didn’t win. Six weeks before my planned marathon, injury struck in the guise of plantar fasciitis, a condition resulting in heel pain that can mean weeks or months off running. I never made it to that start line (although I made it to another one five years later).

On & off track

The most common running injuries are related to the knees and feet and, in faster runners, the hamstrings, but most people get an injury of some sort during their training. “Injury is often less about tissue damage and more about sensitivity and irritation,” says Greg Lehman, a physiotherapist and chiropractor. He advises adding five to ten per cent mileage per week and, to be extra safe, sticking at the same distance for one week every third week. But it’s not just about what you do when you’re running, says Greg. It’s also important to sleep well and reduce your stress levels.

This means that trying to alleviate life stress by going for a long run isn’t always a good idea — neither is ramping up your training now to try to make up for missed sessions in January or over Christmas. “Any change, whether it’s your shoes, the amount you are working out or the surface you run on should be incorporated slowly into your programme,” he says. Strength training can improve your performance and may reduce injury risk, too, says Greg. Lifting weights for five to 12 repetitions and adding jump training exercises could help.

In the weeks leading up to a race, Greg recommends that runners trust their
fitness and the training they have put in. “Don’t go overboard on your workouts as that will increase the risk of injury,” he says. “Don’t add anything at this stage either as there won’t be enough time to adapt.”

Pain, however, isn’t always a sign that something is wrong. “It’s normal to be in a bit of pain during or immediately after a run,” says Greg. “But if that pain changes your gait or posture, or it sticks around long after you stop and still hurts when you go for a jog the next day, get it looked at. Cut your volume in half and build back up the following week if the pain has gone.”
Greg says that foam rolling — a type of stretching using a foam cylinder — or wearing a shoe that has been matched to your foot and stride shouldn’t do you any harm, but to prevent injury you need to focus on the basics by slowly building up your training and minimising your general stress levels.

“After the marathon, give yourself one or two weeks off, and then set another goal and gently start again,” says Greg.
How to test for injury

Muscle tightness is often the first indicator that something’s wrong. “If there are
restrictions in your range of movement, it’s likely some muscles have been overloaded during your training,” says Paul Argent, a sports therapist.

“The first element of tightness that usually shows up in runners involves the internal rotation of the hip,” he maintains. To check this, stand with your legs hip width apart. Twist one hip in making sure the rotation comes from the hip. Let the foot slide in on the floor with the movement and note how far you’re able to go. Return that hip to neutral and repeat on the other side.

If you notice a restriction on one side compared with the other, you might be at risk of injury. And here’s what you need to do if you think you might be at risk:

First, try resting and then, a couple of short light runs. Both may encourage overloaded muscles to begin working again.

If your hip movement is still limited or is getting worse, then proceed with caution and think about seeing a sports therapist.

For details, visit human-movement. com/injury-prevention-for-runners.Prevention is betterRichard Felton, a running enthusiast, offers tips to prevent injuries:

Buy two pairs of shoes: Alternate
between pairs on different training days. “When you run, the sole of your shoe
becomes compressed and can take 24 hours to return to normal. In that time, the shoe won’t support you fully. If you run daily, alternate your shoes.”

Buy larger shoes: “Running places weight on the arch of the foot, making the toes flare out and your foot longer. When you’re buying running shoes, stand up and lift your toe up — there should be a thumb’s gap between the end of your longest toe and the end of
the shoe.”

Fit shoes at the end of the day: After a long day, our feet swell — just like after a marathon. Make sure your running shoes feel comfortable in the evening, or allow for extra width if you’re trying them on earlier in the day.

The Telegraph

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