With the taper well and truly under way staying injury free and healthy is vital for the upcoming weeks.
Over the years of treating hundreds of DCM runners I can safely say that a major cause of running injuries is poor recovery techniques, so here are my top five tips on how to ensure smiles at the start line.
1) Rest and sleep
Most people who run marathons are not professionals. They have jobs, families a social life and plenty of things to fit into their lives other than their training schedule. So something has to be sacrificed to fit in training and the most common one people choose is to reduce time spent on rest and sleep. Sleep is imperative for recovery. Without adequate amounts of sleep our immune systems depletes so rate of repair reduces significantly. This leaves us open to viral and bacterial infections and also risk of injury.
The way we get fitter and stronger in our muscles is by causing micro trauma to the body when running which responds by producing bigger muscles, a more efficient heart and lungs and more resilient tendons etc. However, this repairing response will only occur of the body is rested well and the best repair happens when we are sleeping. So don’t start panicking and making up for a bad training spell 6 weeks ago. Its gone! focus on your active recovery.
When we are training to increase our fitness levels our body’s need increased amounts of nutrients to repair damaged muscles and build stronger fitter ones. Unless we fill the body with these nutrients the body will simply get weaker and become injured and unwell.
Obviously increasing your uptake in calories and carb rich food is common practice before the marathon. But do not overeat the night before. You will be left with a bloated gassy tummy bringing on and uncomfortable run and possibly frequenting the portaloo.
3) Sports massage
A good sports massage releases tight muscles and increases circulation, thereby clearing out waste products and enabling healing agents to reach the muscles. I recommend if getting a sports massage, give your body at least 2 days to recover from this before the marathon.
Self-massage using foam rollers, spikes balls and sticks are a good way to self manage muscle tightness.
4) Cross training
As the miles steadily start to reduce, nerves, fears and doubts start to rare their ugly heads. Do not start making up for lost time. If you feel uneasy about not been as active, cross train.
By cross training I don’t necessarily mean on the cross trainer itself, rather any form of gentle exercise that you enjoy. This can include gentle cycling, yoga, swimming, pilates, dancing or anything else that gets you warm and keep your mind happy.
5) Pilates and relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, gentle pilates or simply reading can be excellent at making sure your muscles and mind fully relax. You are more likely to sleep better and recover better as a result.
The weekend leading up to the marathon keep off your feet. Drive, sit, lie.
Anytime I have done an endurance race I always at some point during the race think ‘ Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever’
Happy running! Best of luck x