There’s More to Running than Running…

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There's more to marathon training than running

My biggest marathon training mistake…

Running.

Not running too much, not running too little.

Just running. And only running.

marathon training mistakes

I got injured training for my first marathon and had to pull out, ran a 4.54 and hurt for weeks after the London marathon in 2012 before I fell in love with fitness classes during New York City Marathon training and ran a 45 minute PB.

Although my times haven’t consistently improved throughout my eight marathons, my knowledge and awareness has. The strongest I’ve ever felt was during the Berlin and Chicago marathon training cycles, the difference between those marathon cycles and others… the cross-training.

There's more to marathon training than running

Stretching

I hate stretching, and I’m not great at fitting in yoga to my life…but turns out running long distance makes your muscles really tight, especially if you just sit on the sofa for hours after your long run. I think creating a post-run routine that targets the areas you’re most prone to muscle tightness and soreness is key for happy, injury free training. Furthermore, making the time, even if it’s just 5min per day while you wait for your kettle to boil or as you’re watching TV to foam roll will do wonders.

It might be worth finding a regular yoga class that you can join that will force you to pay attention to your body, stretch out those tired limbs and reset your mind. I recently took a legs and hips focused yoga class at Psycle Shoreditch (their new location) and loved the focus on hip openers, hamstring stretches and quad release whilst still incorporating the traditional vinyasa flow.

Nutrition and Hydration

A running coach once told me, if you’re thirsty after your first few Yasso 800s then you didn’t drink enough during the day. You’re going into your workout dehydrated and you’re going to fight a losing battle.

Many runners obsess over hydration during their workouts but neglect to think about it before and after. I’ve been using MiO liquid water enhancer to ensure that I’m drinking plenty of water throughout the day, without adding extra sugar or calories into my diet. Adding the fruity flavour (love the Strawberry version) encourages me to sip on it throughout the day, meaning I’m ready for my evening Burn class or run! The little bottles of liquid water enhancer are the ideal size to fit in my handbag and take with me when I’m in London for a day of meetings, travelling or simply running errands and working from home. It adds a bit of excitement to my water (and my day!)

marathon training mistakes

As someone studying dietetics I really should pay more attention to my pre and post workout meals, but honestly aside from trying to have a mix of protein, carbs and fat within 30 minutes of my session (which usually comes in the form of an iced latte!), I’m not overly strict with my eating. However, after reading through Shalane Flanagan’s Run Fast, Eat Slow book and reading more studies about fuelling, it’s clear that if I want to perform at my best and run PBs, I do need to start taking more care and consideration into what I’m eating.

When it comes to nutrition, each individual is different. What I eat before a long run is very different to what you might like before a long run, however I think the key is to eat real, whole foods and cut out the crap. The less processed the better in my opinion. Focus on quality proteins, wholegrains and plenty of fruit and veg and cut back on salts and sugars.

marathon training mistakes

Recovery

Sometimes think that we’re being up sold when it comes to massage as every single person I’ve seen has said ‘you need to come for regular massages’. I worry that they’re trying to get me to come back to them, however I do know that having fortnightly sessions during Boston/London marathon training plus dry needling, helped get me through two back to back marathons injury free. It was a prevention tactic rather than needing a cure.

I’d highly recommend that before you start upping your training for a marathon, you book in for an assessment at a physio to identify any areas of weakness and to create a warm up/cool down plan. I went a few weeks ago to see the team at Function 360 Physiotherapy for an assessment, and as usual identified my weak glutes as the key area of concern. After some massage and dry needling to help reduce some of the tightness in my calves, hamstrings and glutes, and we’re coming up with a ‘rehab’ plan to help with my marathon training.

I love an epsom salt bath post hard run to help my muscles recover (I hop straight into the bath with a cup of tea and biscuit or bowl of granola and yogurt after most long runs!). The heat and the magnesium help restore the muscles after pounding the pavement (although if you’ve chafed anywhere you’ll know about it pretty quickly!)

marathon training mistakes

Strength Training

It’s only finally in the last few months that I have embraced strength training, and can really see the difference already that incorporating it regular into my marathon training has made. I feel stronger, fitter and faster at this stage than I ever have in a marathon training cycle. Strength training is something I have neglected in the past to my detriment, suffering from recurring knee injuries, hip and lower back soreness. After speaking with Jordane at Function 360 Physiotherapy, she highlighted the need for me to strengthen my glutes to improve efficiency, and core for running posture.

My old coach, Mary, has actually just launched a strength and running programme, whilst there are many PTs out there that specialise in strength for runners and needn’t cost a fortune to point you in the right direction or help you create a plan. I’m also going to try to share more of the workouts that I’m doing here so that you can adapt and adjust them to suit your training needs.

Sleep

Sleep deprivation can impair post exercise recovery and enough hours of shuteye is key for cellular repair. Although people require different amounts, it’s recommended that we sleep for 7.5-9 hours a night, however most of us aren’t reaching that on a regular basis.

Many of us set our alarms super early to squeeze in our weekday runs, meaning that we’re cutting our nights short. It’s crucial that we make up those hours of sleep at night by going to bed earlier and not burning the candle at both ends (especially on the nights before long runs).

Personally, I think that sometimes a few extra hours sleep will benefit you more than that easy run. Prioritise the most important workouts, and if in need, skip/swap the other workouts when sleep is needed.

Yes, running is the most fundamental part of marathon training, but if you don’t add in the other components, the whole package, then you might not see the results you want.

marathon training mistakes

Photos by Anna Jackson

Wearing Under Armour kit from their new Unlike Any Campaign

featuring my fave Alison Desir (Read about her in my blog post about never giving up?)

3 Comments

  1. 4th September 2017 / 1:41 pm

    A great post! This year I did my second marathon injury free – as you say, there’s more to it than just the miles. For me, 10 mins a day of extra stretching and core worked a treat!

  2. 4th September 2017 / 3:02 pm

    Another great post. When your training do you do your strength training right up the the week of your race?

  3. 14th September 2017 / 2:17 pm

    Great advice. Totally spot on. As for MiO – anything with sucralose should not be considered a healthy product. (I’m an artificial sweetener hater big time 🙈)

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