Proback’s Guide to Running a Marathon
Following Dr. Christian Allard’s expert advice about running the London Marathon, as featured on the MailOnline this week, we’d like to share the recommendations we give any of our patients looking to run a marathon.There are several mistakes that new, enthusiastic runners make while preparing themselves for a new distance, whether that’s a 10k, half marathon or full marathon. If you already have aches and pains in your back, knees or feet before starting your training, throwing yourself into a training plan that requires you to run up to 5 hours a week, or complete several hours of training, this will make an injury much more likely to occur.
- Build a solid running base
Many marathon training plans can have you building your mileage quite rapidly. If you’re a brand new runner, it’s worthwhile spending a few months building your mileage slowly so that you’re comfortably able to run between 3-6 miles before embarking on a marathon plan. By increasing your mileage slowly and building that solid running base, you’ll be less likely to injure yourself down the line. If this is your first marathon, the time you spend building this base will prove invaluable as you will be much more likely to cross the finish line injury free. A proper warm up is also crucial, as are post-run stretches – luckily, YouTube has a multitude of preparation routines for runners so you can try out a few to see which ones work best for you.
- Be Prepared
Signing up fr a marathon is one thing, completing it is another. Your level of fitness and stamina are things you will build on during your training, but making sure that your body is well taken car eof will help significantly during those long runs in the peak of your training plan. Before starting your training, make sure all your joints, your back and neck are in good health to sustain the training regime you’re about to put your body through. The best way to do this is to seek the help of a professional, get a full body MOT – you wouldn’t take a car on a long journey if the bodywork is about to snap – treat your body the same way.
- Have the right running technique
It can be quite common to suffer with back pain as a runner, the impact of running can be stressful on the joints and discs in your spine. One of the main culprits of this is running form. Our patients can find themselves with recurring aches and pains when running; this can be as a result of repeatedly running with poor form. When you’re next out on your run, pay attention to the way your foot strikes the floor – it’s all too common for runners to heel strike before propelling themselves forward to the next strike with their toes. The best way to absorb impact while running is to lead with the balls of your feet in mid air, and when you make contact with the floor. Imagine jumping off a table to the floor with your heels first, you would be extremely likely to injure yourself as your heel bone is not able to absorb impact well. Landing on the balls of your feet will appropriately distribute the shock impact through the knees, hips and back, therefore reducing the chance of injury.
Since the body is mainly made of water, you should make sure to hydrate effectively while running. The more you sweat, the more you will need to drink. If you’re a fan of electrolyte solutions, make sure to practice with these during your long runs. Likewise, if you plan on consuming the energy drinks along with the water the race has to offer, it’s a good idea to practice drinking the same brand on one of your runs to make sure it agrees with your digestion.
- Nutrition & Supplementation
Training for a race can be taxing on the body, especially towards the end of your training plan when your mileage reaches its peak. Fuelling your body with the nutrients it needs to keep your energy levels high will be extremely important. This will mean lots of vegetables, protein and slightly increasing your carbohydrate intake to prepare for long runs.
Supplements can be useful to make sure that the body doesn’t run out of building blocks while repairing injured tissues during training. A few unheard of supplements include Celedrin – a great supplement for joint health as it can help to lubricate the cell membranes that cushion the bones and joints. Likewise, L-Glutamine can help fuel muscles and resist them from becoming sore during exercise. Marathon runners put physical stress on their bodies, meaning that glutamine can deplete from your body, this is a great way to ensure it stays topped up.
Fitting in your training days along with a day during the week to do a long run is important, but don’t underestimate the value in resting. During your rest days your body will be able to repair itself so that on your next run you can perform at your best. This is why you’ll also need to taper off your runs towards the end of your training plan. Running at peak mileage 3-4 weeks before your marathon and then reducing your training until race day will ensure that you’re able to race at your best on the day.
- Follow your heart rate
Smart health watches have become increasinly popular in the last few years, and make it possible for runners to monitor their heart rate during training. Staying within the healthy ranges according to your age and level of fitness is extremely important.
The most basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. This is the absolute maximum that your heart should be beating during exercise. On this note, it’s important to remember it’s a marthon – not a sprint. Slow and steady is the best approach and don’t go off too quickly at the beginning – starting slow and building your speed later will ensure you don’t fatigue too early on.
- Enjoy yourself!
If this is your firs tmarathon, enjoy yourself and try not to stress about finishing at a certain time. Aiming for a finishing time is a great incentive to keep yourself performing at your best, but making sure you enjoy the day can make the race truly memorable. If you’re running the London Marathon, it’s a fantastic location, the crowds are great and the route is picturesque – use this as motivation ot drive you around the 26 miles.
We hope these tips have been helpful to you if youre new to running the marathon distance. We’ll leave you with this quote from legendary marathoner Emil Zatopek:
“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon”