Running a marathon is an amazing achievement for any level of runner. Many people embark on this journey to one day cross that finish line, but not everyone will get there. An injury mid-training is a common occurrence that will impede your ability to compete in a marathon. Injuries can be frustrating and sometimes life altering depending on the severity of it. Following key tips throughout your training can be the difference between crossing the finish line and coming up short.
Preventing an injury has many advantages and benefits; it will be incredibly rewarding in the end. Here are a few injury prevention tips to follow during your training:
Warm-Ups and Cool Downs
It is crucial to properly warm up before your run and cool down following your run. This helps aid your body in preparing for the task in front of you and for recovering afterwards. If you don’t warm up, you risk some serious muscle and ligament strains. A solid 5-minute warm up can do your body wonders. Cooling down is also very important. If you stop too fast while your heart is working overtime, you could get sick or even faint. Also, stretching after running will reduce the buildup of lactic acid which aids in recovery time.
Purchasing the Correct Shoes
Purchasing the correct running shoe will also help with injury prevention for marathon runners. Your shoe size should be one size bigger from your normal shoe size. This is due to your foot swelling while you run. Many shoe stores offer a gait analysis program to help fit you into the proper style fit for your foot and running needs.
Proper nutrition is very important to maintain throughout your training. Eating well and plenty of food helps your body absorb the proper nutrients and vitamins it needs to keep up with your training volume. Failure to incorporate proper nutrition will leave you susceptible to fatigue, poor performance, stress fractures and low bone density which can lead to injury.
Exercises and Stretches
Pre-running exercises such as dynamic stretching, thera-band work, leg swings and hip openers help turn your “muscles on” and prepare them for the run ahead of you. These exercises can also help to prevent muscle strains.
Keep your body in top physical running peak with added strength training. This helps to improve form and eliminates muscle imbalances. It also helps brace your body and joints for impact with each stride and step. Avoiding over-training is key in injury prevention.
Following a training program or hiring a running coach can help you find the proper mileage pace and overall help to regulate your training regime. If you’re looking for a place to start, Hal Higdon offers many programs online, from beginner to advanced runners. A training program will keep you on track to cross the finish line.
Cross training is also vital in training for a marathon. Biking or swimming helps you maintain your cardiovascular fitness while strengthening other muscle groups involved in running. If you don’t have access to weights for strength training, cross training can compensate for that.
These injury prevention tips are meant to help prepare your body for running a marathon. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent every injury. If you do encounter an injury throughout your training, the physical therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine are ready and willing to get you back on your feet and back on that training road. With locations all over the valley, there is one near you!