As the New Year approaches many of you will start training for the early year marathon season. One of the most common things seen with people training for a marathon is that they start their training too early. A novice marathon training plan should last 16 weeks and if you are an experienced runner you could probably do a 14 week programme. When you start your marathon training you need to start with three runs a week. This will consist of two shorter runs, such as a 6-mile tempo run or 30 minutes of interval runs, and a longer run on the weekend.
As the weeks of your training plan go by you will gradually increase the distance on your long runs at the weekend. If you do not judge this properly or follow a training plan designed by the physiotherapist then you can sustain a number of injuries. The most commonly injured areas are the knees and the Achilles tendon.
There are a couple of knee injuries that people who are training for a marathon suffer from. The first one of these is IT band syndrome. This is a pain on the lateral part of the knee that typically comes on whilst running, this may come on after a mile or even 10 miles But this will typically present itself as very severe outer knee pain that stops you from running. There are some very simple things that you can do to resolve this. First you need to reduce your running volume, second you need to stretch your glutes and foam roll your IT band and then you need to strengthen your quad and glute muscles.
The next most common running injury to affect the knee is patellofemoral joint syndrome. This comes about through muscle imbalances such as having a tight glute, tight IT band and a weak quad. This causes the kneecap to track improperly in the groove of the thigh bone. Eventually the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap rubs and gets inflamed creating pain. Again this needs to be managed by stretching the glute and IT band and strengthening the quad muscles.
Another common injured area of the body when training for a marathon is the Achilles. The most common injury to the Achilles is Achilles tendinopathy. This was formerly known as Achilles tendinitis, but scientists have found that there are not necessarily signs of inflammation in the tendon. What typically happens is people increased their training load and the tendon fails to adapt to this load going through it. The structure of the tendon begins to break down and the cells within the tendon start to produce extra fluid, hence you get a small bump in the tendon, which is painful.
This can be managed by reducing your running volume, stretching your calf and then beginning an eccentric strengthening programme for the Achilles tendon. To avoid suffering from marathon training injuries make sure you consult a Wandsworth physiotherapist prior to commencing your marathon training plan.
Steve Hines is a physiotherapist in Wandsworth. Along with helping athletes he also runs a bootcamp on Wandsworth Common for local residents who want to get fit and lose weight.