The Flora London Marathon will be on April 13, 2008. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has issued top training tips for runners to help them avoid any last minute injuries. It has worked with chartered physiotherapist Susie Jones, who manages the team of eighty physios that treat and support London Marathon runners on the day, to come up with advice for runners in the final stages of their training.
Susie’s five top tips for the last big push
1. Tougher training and real rest
By this stage, runners should be doing tougher training sessions, interspersed with rest days. You should usually be resting every other day. Training sessions should involve long runs – around 90 minutes of steady running.
2. Build your stamina
To help build stamina, you should be doing some ‘interval training’. This can include Fartlek conditioning, where you start running steadily then suddenly speed up for a certain distance – usually determined by markers on your route such as trees or lamp posts. Another tactic in interval training is fast up-hill running, before slowing down until recovered and then speeding up again.
3. Mental toughness and confidence
Runners will have been working hard on conditioning their bodies for the 26.2 miles, but in these later stages of training you must also prepare yourself mentally. Staying positive is vital as it’s important not to lose momentum. Focus on the success of completing each training session and how each one is a step closer to the main achievement of completing the Marathon.
4. Don’t be an ostrich!
At this point in training, runners may notice some chronic injuries. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope they’ll go away on their own; they need to be tackled! Shin splints, knee pain and ankle problems are common injuries, and now is the time to address them. There is every chance that an injury can be dealt with in time for you to run the Marathon; all is not lost! See a sports physiotherapist as soon as possible for advice – they may even suggest training alternatives such as swimming, cycling or the gym.
5. Watch what you eat
Runners need to look after their immune systems. Eating plenty of fruit and veg in the run up to the marathon is crucial to stave off any nasty bugs and viruses that could put you out of action, especially at this time of year. Lots of carbohydrates are also very important in terms of stamina for those long runs.
And a little extra advice:
A week before the Marathon, you should stop running and rest up. Your body needs to recharge by storing up glycogen and resting muscles. You should spend the last week winding down and not do any runs longer than 20 minutes.
Check your training shoes to make sure they are not worn out. If you need to replace them before the Marathon, now is the time to buy new ones so that you can break them in before the big day. Susie says, “As well as being properly prepared, it’s important to know what to do after you’ve run the marathon. If you’re brave and don’t want to be too stiff the next day, buy a bag of ice, add it to your bath water and sit in it for three to five minutes. Have a well-deserved rest if you’re injury free, although if you can face it a short run the next day is quite a good idea. If you have any injuries for longer than 36 hours, get some professional advice from a physio.”