The NN Running Team’s Ethiopian-based physio, Sjors Schipaanboord, offers his three key injury prevention tips for marathon runners of all standards.
1 – Consistent pre-hab work
My most important tip to any marathoner is not only to focus on running but also incorporate regular gym exercises into the programme. It is one thing to be able to run the marathon distance, but if your core is not strong enough this will lead to unorthodox body movements, which can lead to injury. If the core is not sufficiently strong this can lead to strain on the knees and ankles, which can cause stress-related injuries.
It has to be remembered that when running – the contact time with the ground is 0.8seconds and the impact is eight times your bodyweight. Even if you weigh 50kg it requires a lot of strength to resist this force.
I would recommend focusing on hip strength two or three times per week by carrying out exercises such as squats, lunges, planks, although try not to incorporate the exercises after a long run.
2 – Eat quickly after training
Some 20 minutes or so after training it is important to eat some form of protein as a means of helping the body repair. Why 20 minutes? Well, studies have shown that taking on board the right fuel within 20 minutes of training can help the body recover within one to two days. However, if fuel is not taken on board, the recovery time can be as long as four to five days. Examples of proteins which can be ingested include; milk, yoghurt, beans, fish or meat.
3 – Respect the distance
Don’t start your preparation too late. To start training just six weeks out from the marathon can be risky because if the body is not ready to cope with the distance then there is a far greater chance of picking up an injury. And, of course, if you have an injury you cannot train and if you cannot train, it is impossible to run a good marathon.
Preparing for shorter distances might be a little different but the marathon requires a far greater commitment to training. Be realistic. Start slowly and tick off little goals as part of the training. If you do not put in the hard work, covering the marathon distance can be a gruelling undertaking.