How to nail your marathon training in 2022
by Graceville Physiotherapist Joni Levine
It is usually at this time of the year when people start to make New Year’s resolutions, which, let’s face it, barely ever come to fruition! One of the common resolutions is “I want to improve my fitness”. Running is a great way to improve fitness, you don’t need any special equipment or memberships, and it’s a great exercise option to improve mental health. A lot of runners see a marathon as the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, risk of injury is high if you don’t have an adequate running program! Here are my key tips to help you prepare for marathon training and ensure it goes smoothly:
1) See a physio before you start! A marathon program is gruelling, so you need to make sure that you are physically ready to start training for a marathon. A physiotherapist will make sure you have the required strength, mobility, endurance and technique to commence a running program. If you have any medical concerns, it is highly recommended you see your GP as well to make sure your body can cope with the rigours of a running program.
2) Get some proper running shoes! I see too many injuries that could have been avoided if the patient had proper running shoes. You want a shoe that feels comfortable and supportive, so make sure you can try it on first and go for a run in the shop before you buy it. A podiatrist can give you some useful suggestions as to which shoe is best for you.
3) It’s not just about the running! In order to cope with the physical demands of running, you need to do some strength and mobility-based exercises. This can be performed in a gym or at home. A physiotherapist is the best health professional to seek the best exercises that are individually tailored for you. You may also benefit from 1-2 sessions a week of cycling, swimming and/or gym cardio machines. It is good to do another form of cardio exercise in conjunction with running, as this can reduce the overall strain on your body whilst also improving your cardiovascular health.
4) Look after yourself! Each individual running program will be different, but one thing remains the same…you must have at least one rest day a week. This allows your body to recover from the demands of training, which reduces your risk of injury, such as knee pain. If you feel any niggles, it is best to see a physiotherapist as soon as possible. They can get on top of any little niggles you have before they become bigger problems.
5) You need to vary your runs! A lot of people fall into the trap of just running at the same speed and trying to gradually increase their running distances throughout the program. Whilst in theory this is a great way to approach your running program, you are not adequately preparing your body for the rigours of a marathon. Incorporating hills, intervals, speed sessions and long runs into your program gives you the best chance of not just completing a marathon, but also completing it in a fast time! A physiotherapist with a special interest in running can help you devise a suitable running program for you.
6) It won’t all go to plan! It is only human for you to not be able to complete every training session as per the instructions on your program. Things happen, right? Such is life! The program should not be seen as the be all and end all. Rather, your running program is a guide as to what is ideal for you. If you are struggling to complete the program, let your physiotherapist know and they can remodel it for you. If you try to complete a running program that you are struggling with, you are at risk of injury.
7) Do some other races! An important part of a marathon program is to ensure you are used to race conditions, specifically holding your own pace and not being influenced by other runners. These also provide an opportunity for PB’s and those coveted finisher medals! Your physiotherapist can help you decide which races are best for your program.
8) Fuel yourself properly! Seeing a dietician is crucial to ensure you are getting your required nutritional demands for a marathon program. The best training program does not mean much if you are not getting the required nutrition and hydration your body needs. This is an often overlooked part of the program, but arguably one of the most important.
9) Rest before the race! It can be tempting to keep increasing your training right up to the marathon. If you have missed a part of your training, you may feel the need to try “make up for it” and keep training right up to the marathon race. You need to let your body recover before the race in order to give yourself the best chance of completing the race in a time you are happy with. This is called tapering, and the taper period is often around 1-2 weeks. You still do some training in this period before the marathon, but it is significantly less than what you would usually do
10) Enjoy the marathon! You’ve done all the hard work, so enjoy the marathon! There will be many points during the run where you question why you are running 42km. Just remember what made you want to do the program and do all the training sessions. Try and smile in the tough times. Once you reach the finish line, it will all be worth it. Trust me!
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Michael has an extensive history and understanding of strength and conditioning which can be implemented alongside traditional therapy to provide a holistic approach to patient care. He believes that when it comes to pursuing sport and recreational activities, injury management is an essential part of optimising movement while keeping your body intact.
Michael is a caring and passionate physio who is driven by identifying the key source of each person’s injury and directs treatment to achieve patient specific goals. As an avid golfer Michael also has a great understanding of swing mechanics and the role physio can play in managing the demands of golf on the body.
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