Tips for marathon runners

Every year in April, London hosts the London Marathon.

Thousands of people start training in January (which makes for a very good new year’s resolution) and of those, some follow a training programme witha professional, some others download a programme from the internet,others run together with friends in local running groups and,unfortunately, some don’t even follow specific guidelines and hope for the best on the day.

Marathon running is gruelling and requires a lot of preparation. It is common to develop injuries due to running on concrete or because of ill-fitting shoes. Positioning the foot badly on the ground, either tilting it inwards or outwards, can cause postural and muscular problems. Some women for example, who are used to wearing high heeled shoes, may find it more natural to run on the ball of their feet instead of the heel and middle of the feet. This can cause issues to the shins, lower back and inflammation in joints and tendons.

To prevent injuries, here’s a few tips from Energya:

*check your shoes. Ideally when you bought your shoes you went to a reputable shop where a trained shop assistant made an assessment of your running style and advised you on getting insoles, if applicable. If you are a beginner and have been training in old shoes they may not be supporting your feet adequately. You still have time to buy new shoes and break them in, but do it as soon as possible.

*Blisters. The best way to prevent them is to apply a vaseline-based lotion to avoid rubbing. Also see point made above about shoes: if they are too big, get an insole.

*Injuries. Runners tend to get pain in their calves, Achilles heels, quads,hamstrings, knees, hips, ITB (the lateral band that goes all the way down the side of your legs) and feet. To prevent injuries, always do specific stretches to increase the flexibility of all the major muscle groups.

However,DIY-stretching can be harmful if done incorrectly: always check with a physiotherapist or sports professional that you are doing the exercises correctly.

*visualise your goal. See yourself victorious at thefinishing line: your friends and family being proud of you, seeyourself holding that medal. Do this visualisation every time you train.

*Nutrition and hydration. Keep sipping water, possibly with added minerals,throughout your run. Load up on carbohydrates (rice, pasta, rootvegetables like sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips) during the day to provide you with slow release energy. In the evening, choose protein-rich meals (legumes, fish, meat, tofu) combined with carbohydrates to help your muscles repair overnight. Try to avoid ready made meals as they are loaded with fat and salt, which sap energy. If possible, reduce the amount of alcohol as it puts extra strain on the liver.

Before a run, choose a light snack like a banana or rice cakes with avocado. Also make sure you eat plenty of vitamin-rich foods like fresh fruit to avoid getting colds and flu. You have been training through the winter and with the change of season your body will need extra vitamins and minerals. Beware of having too much fibre before a run as this can lead to uncomfortable abdominal pain – with food, the golden rule is always everything in moderation.

*Make rest days an unmovable appointment in your diary. If you have skipped a couple of runs for ill health or work/social commitments, you still need to take a rest day every other day. The week before the marathon should be mostly dedicated to complete rest.

*Get expert advice. If in doubt,always speak to a qualified physiotherapist who can advise you on specific rehabilitation exercises and stretches.

*Get regular massage treatments. Massage can drain waste products like lactic acid away from muscle tissue so you can increase blood flow to the area,improve flexibility and decrease pain.

Energya wishes all London Marathon runners (and all marathon runners around the world) a successful and injury-free marathon.