The mistake that most of us make when starting a new venture is that we go all out. We get excited about something and, instead of being methodical and taking the time needed, we rush into it head first. It is important when you make any new commitment to put your heart into it, but you must also put your head into it.
If you have decided that you are ready to begin to train for a marathon, you have to approach it as you would anything else, with forethought and a plan. There is a reason why you have to train for a marathon. The body was not created to go out and run 28 miles in a day. It takes the body time, dedication, and patience to get to the point where running that type of mileage will not result in injury.
Training Smart For Injury Prevention
The hurdle that most marathon runners experience is injury. By the time the actual marathon is being held, they are on the bench due to being hurt or just plain worn out. Wanting to attack it right at the start, they overdue it, and don’t take the time to build up to the strength needed. That can lead to either giving up, or needing to give up due to health concerns. Being patient is part of training for a marathon, something that most runners are not very good at. As a runner, when you want to “go”, you want to “go”.
So what are the best ways to build to prevent injury?
Running can be very difficult on the body, especially the joints. The continual pounding can cause not just soreness, but the additional wear and tear can cause permanent injury. The last thing that you want to do is have the marathon be the end of your running career. A marathon should be the pinnacle, not the end, of any runner’s goal. Training for a marathon involves more than just strapping on your shoes and hitting the pavement. It involves building the muscles of the body to support the punishment of running such high mileage.
When you are training for a marathon you are going to want to condition the whole body, not just the muscles that you use for running. Think of the body like any machine. If you only focus on certain parts of the machine, it won’t be able to function optimally. Training for a marathon involves building core muscles, making necessary nutritional changes, and conditioning the body for the overuse that it will be experiencing. Even for experienced runners, a marathon is something that needs to be planned for.
Work on your weakest link
To train for a marathon you are going to want to work on the weakest link. The weakest link is going to be your limiting factor to completing the marathon successfully. Whether it is your Achilles heel, literally, or something else, identifying what your weakness is as important as knowing your strengths. Taking the body apart and working on each component individually is important to not creating imbalances which will lead to injury.
When you run, the muscles that are the strongest in your body are going to dominate. Over time, that can create imbalances in the strength of your muscle structure, and malignant of your mechanics. Isolating the muscles of your body, and working on them each independently through functional training, weight lifting and endurance training, is the best way to balance your body and stay strong overall. When training for a marathon it is a good idea to work with a personal trainer to identify any potential muscle or structural issues. Even just a consultation to discuss what are the best areas to focus on, can be a huge help. Incorporating weight lifting and functional training is key to injury prevention.
Don’t over due it
The saying goes that if you can run half of a marathon, you can run the whole marathon. In saying that, of course it is important to train by racking up the miles, but it is also important to not overdue your training. Running too frequently, too many miles, or not allowing the body time to recover, will most likely lead to injury. The body needs time to rebuild and to recoup. Running every other day is a great way to give your muscles time to rebuild and repair. On the off days you can continue training by incorporating weight training, or other forms of conditioning like yoga, or Pilates.
Stretching isn’t just for old people
The best thing that you can do to prevent injury is to warm up prior to running, stretch after running, and maintain your flexibility by performing exercises to increase your range of motion. Yoga and Pilates are a great way to increase your flexibility, build your core muscles, and to mentally focus on running a marathon. If your muscles become tight, they will shorten. When a muscle is weak it will shorten, which will create imbalances in your gait. The only way to strengthen the muscle is to keep it elongated and strong. Yoga and Pilates are both a great way to maintain strength in your individual muscle structure and your core musculature. If you haven’t ever done yoga before, incorporate it into your training routine. You will be shocked at how well it will keep you injury free.
Nutrition is something that we don't take seriously enough
If you are increasing your output of calories while training for a marathon it is important that you compensate for it by increasing your intake. Not only is increasing calories important to maintain good health, eating the right things is what will keep your body illness-free. If you are out once a week sick your training is not going to be successful. Your body can’t function optimally if you aren’t supplying it with the nutrients that it needs. When you train for a marathon you are going to have additional requirements that you will need to supplement. A healthy immune system will keep your body illness free and allow you to be out training instead of at home sick in bed. Upping your intake of essential vitamins and minerals is imperative, as is your need for protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are necessary for quick and immediate energy and protein is what will aid you in the repair and rebuild phase of lean muscle mass.
Building takes time
The most important thing to remember is that training for a marathon takes time. If you push yourself too hard you are either going to end up getting injured, or you are going to get burnt out and not want to continue. By giving yourself a break, and listening to your body, you will better be able to take the steps necessary to achieve your goals. If your body is telling you that it needs a break, give it one. There are signs that your body will send you that you are overdoing it. It is imperative that you listen to those signals, they are the prelude to injury. A marathon is an excellent achievement, but not one that is easy. Allow yourself the time and patience to train not only hard, but smart, to prevent injury.