Prepare your body - Warm-up and Stretch
Prior to running, take 15-20 minutes and perform a warm up with stretching. Dynamic stretches should be done, such as jogging in place or jumping jacks for a couple of minutes, followed by some body weight squats or lunges. Follow those activities with a stretch of your major muscle groups 3-4 times holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Ready-Set-Go… 26.2 miles
It is highly recommended that runners do not consider participating in a marathon unless you are a seasoned runner who has participated in running for at least a year. Training will typically consist of running 4-5 days/week, on average, for a minimum of 25 miles total. To train optimally you need to plan for a training period of 6-12 months prior to the event. Being overly aggressive by drastically increasing the duration of running and number of training days/week could result in injury. Slowly increase your weekly mileage to prepare for the event in increments. Runners should follow a 10% rule, which means one’s weekly mileage and/or daily mileage do not increase by greater than 10% relative to the prior week and/or prior run.
Hit the Road
The perfect surface to run on is an area that is flat, soft and safe. In regards to your marathon training and route, the running course may not be of the perfect surface, as there may be hills, concrete, and uneven surfaces. It is important to use caution when running on a variety of surfaces.
Find the Perfect Fit
Take the time to get an adequate pair of footwear. Finding the perfect pair of running footwear can be overwhelming with so many available options, but it is important to choose a pair that allows for function and comfort. Most stores specializing in running shoes have trained employees to act as a resource for you. Don’t hesitate to ask these individuals for help! Also keep in mind that when a running shoe has exhausted 500-600 miles of use, it is time to consider attaining replacements. Many running injuries can be traced back to footwear that is either not fitted properly to the type of foot or that has been overused.
Fuel Your Body
Maintain a healthy diet and proper hydration levels to increase performance during your marathon and training sessions. A balanced diet will contain carbohydrates and protein, including foods rich in iron and calcium. When convenient, snack throughout your activity to replace calories you have burned off and maintain optimal energy levels. It is important to restore fluid and electrolyte balance by increasing fluid intake by means of water or sports drinks.
There is no doubt about it, training for and participating in a marathon will put excessive stress on your body. Your muscles, joints, and bones can be susceptible to injury. Some common injuries that marathoners have to deal with are:
Plantar Fasciitis - The plantar fascia is a connective tissue that is located on the underside of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia which can present as mild pain in the heel. If not addressed early it can progress to a very painful condition.
Stress Fracture - A stress fracture is classified as a hairline or complete break of the bone. This injury can be extremely painful, and will be exacerbated by impact activities. Typically in runners, stress fractures are seen in the lower leg bones (tibia or fibula) or the long bones of the foot (metatarsals), particularly the outer edge (5th metatarsal) of the foot.
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints) - Inflammation and pain around the muscles and tendons on the inside of the shin bone (tibia) that runs down toward the inside ankle area can be classified as medial tibial stress syndrome.
Tendonitis - Two typical areas for tendonitis to occur are in the patella tendon (just below the knee cap) and Achilles tendon (behind the heel). Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon, which can become a chronic condition if not treated correctly.
Meniscus Injury - The meniscus is a C-shaped disc, located on both sides of the knee joint (medial and lateral). Each knee joint contains two menisci with the purpose of providing cushioning between the upper leg bone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia) which form the knee joint. Injury to the meniscus typically occurs with a sheering mechanism (twisting and compression) which causes the meniscus to tear.
ITB Syndrome - The IT (iliotibial) Band is a band of fibrous tissue. It is located on the outside of the upper leg, from the hip to the knee. Inflammation of the iliotibial band can cause tightness and irritation to the side of the hip and knee.
Common Sense Treatment Guidelines:
• Many of the above injuries can be traced back to improper footwear due to either the wrong selection for your foot type or overuse of footwear. • Assess the rate of the intensity increase in your training (i.e. the 10% rule) or the terrain you are running on and make adjustments. • The earlier an injury is detected and managed, the better chances it has to resolve quickly. • Rest from training for short periods helps in recovery from injury. • Cross training with low impact activities such as biking and swimming can help maintaining cardiovascular levels during injury recovery periods. • If an acute injury occurs (fast onset with associated pain and/or swelling), then use RICE principles, click here for RICE approach to injuries http://proexpt.com/content.php?l=73&pro=1&id=24
While we hope you have a healthy and safe marathon, if an injury is sustained and you are not able to manage it on your own, Physical Therapy is an option to aid in healing your injuries and allow for your return to your marathon training in a timely manner.
Working with Sports Medicine professionals such as physical therapists and athletic trainers can assist you in resuming your desired level of running activity.
If you have any concerns regarding your medical health, or if you have a pre-existing injury or illness, or if one arises, consult with a physician immediately.
If you have a question about an ache or pain related to your running regimen then please do not hesitate to contact a physical therapist at ProEx Physical Therapy. To find a ProEx physical therapist close to you click here http://proexpt.com/content.php?l=66