The last thing a runner wants is to be struck by an injury, bringing those stress-relieving runs to a halt. Here are some guidelines to help you stay injury-free while training for a marathon. From wearing the right kit, to stretching, hydration, and even ice baths, check out this handy guide for keeping running injuries at bay.
1. Mix the terrain
Road running can lead to injuries because of the repetitive nature of your footstrike on a flat surface. An imbalance in your muscle strength or leg alignment increases the risk of picking up a repetitive strain injury from long runs. Try a few runs off road for a softer, more undulating surface.
2. Get the right shoes
3. Wear the right clothing
Remember to wear appropriate running clothing for the temperature – warm muscles are less likely to pull.
4. Try compression
Compression clothing that supports tired or tight muscles might also be a useful investment.
Women's Compressport Trail Under Control Half Tights 2021
Men's Compressport Trail Under Control Half Tights 2021
Women's Skins Skyscraper Tights Series 3
Men's Skins Long Tights Series 3
Compressport R2V2 Calf Guards V3
Compressport R2 Oxygen Calf Guards
Maurten Gel 100
High 5 Energy Gel Aqua
Nuun Sport Tabs
Strawberry Lemon £7.00
High 5 Zero
Elete Electrolyte Add-In 25ml
Try to be aware of your posture and gait, especially when you are tired. Overtraining is a classic reason for picking up an injury.
More on Running Form for a Pain-Free Marathon »
Remember running brings joy into your life and builds you up - it shouldn't break you down!
There are some simple precautions you can take before and after a run to keep your body in balance.
Before setting off, make sure you are hydrated. If you are hungry take a moment for a light snack or energy drink.
Do some mobilisation exercises and warm up to loosen the muscles beforehand. Do a cool-down, and stretch your muscles afterwards.
Videos: Running Injury Prevention & Care »
3. Trigger Point Therapy
One great tool that has emerged is trigger point therapy. You activate muscles by massaging the neural centres relating to those muscles. You can "switch on" the main muscles for running: glutes, hamstrings and quads, in this way. If the muscles are firing up, it is far less likely you will injure the smaller muscle groups like calves and shins.
4. Chill Out
After a run, dowse your legs in cold water. If you are really brave, have a dip in an ice bath. This will considerably reduce muscle stiffness.
This is where you can really do some positive work to support your running life and prevent injuries.
An excellent way to strengthen your body and give variety to your mind is cross-training: cycling, swimming and working machines in the gym. This is an effective way of increasing your heart rate and endurance, without impact damage to muscles.
More on Strength & Cross Training »
2. Core Strength
Because of our sedentary lifestyles, often core muscles become lazy and will benefit from doing pilates and core strength circuits. Even taking care of your posture at your desk can help. Yoga gives strength and suppleness and is brilliant for easing out sore muscles and joints.
Videos: Core Strength for Runners »
3. Get a Massage or Physio Checkup
Just for maintenance, it is worth visiting a practitioner such as a physio, osteopath or sports masseur regularly.
4. Running Workshops
For inspiration and for progress in your running technique, you could try a running workshop at Run and Become.
5. Look Around
There are many different schools of thought about running; search around and see what inspires and motivates you, then use that to strengthen your mind, emotions and body to prevent an injury.
How do you stay pain-free during a marathon?
If we are being realistic, this is obviously not possible. However, you can contribute to keeping injuries at bay increasing your mileage gradually by 10% a week and having an easy week every 4 weeks. Another thing that will help is to improve your running technique. Runners often get injuries from over-striding and heel-striking, as this increases the impact on the body.
More about Running Form for a Pain-Free Marathon »
What injuries do marathon runners get?
Marathon runners often suffer from muscle injuries in the lower legs (as do many other runners). This is not surprising when we consider that running is a sport in which our body is exposed to an impact of up to 3-4 times our own body weight. Such injuries are usually stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, hamstrings or ITB problems.
More about common running injuries »
Can you run a marathon when injured?
As always, it depends on the severity of the injury or “niggle”. If it looks like a serious injury and your full range of motion or speed is compromised, or your body hurts in a particular area when running, you should consult with a professional. If it just seems like a minor “niggle” and race day is very close, this may not be possible, and you may need to make a decision yourself. As long as there is no risk of worsening the injury, rest in the final few days and then consider having to do your own “runner's first aid” for race day.
More about whether to race or not »