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Last Minute Marathon Tips And Recovery

5 MIN READ • 16th April 2018

The big day is creeping closer and we hope you're well into your training by now. All you need to do is check out these pre-race tips to run the best Marathon ever and be sure to make a full recovery afterwards

Wellness coach and personal trainer Lindsey Passaic, at Vitality Health, shares some of her last-minute marathon prep to get you through the 26 mile stretch, while the experts at Bupa Health Clinics take care of everything post-run

  • 1. Stretch it out
    Stretching not only reduces the risk of injury, but decreases muscle soreness and increases flexibility at the same time. Before you start your race, it is good practice to take your joints through their full range of motion by doing a dynamic (active) stretching routine. Dynamic stretches (for example high knees or twisting lunges) increase your core temperature and prepare your muscles for exercise.
    When you’ve finished your run, be sure to make time for static (passive) stretches. These are more appropriate for cooling down as they relax the muscles and increase extensibility. Using a foam roller will also help your body recover, improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness.

  • 2. Eat well and drink water
    As the distances are long and physically demanding, you need to leave room before and after your run to eat and drink properly. Two hours before running, opt for 500-600ml of water and a small snack high in carbohydrates but low in fat and fibre such as half a protein bar, a slice of toast with peanut butter or a banana. This combination will give your body energy without leading to worrying stomach distress.
    Post-run, aim to drink plenty of water while focusing on consuming carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of your session. Every two hours for four to six hours after running, aim to replenish your water, carbohydrate and protein intake.

  • 3. Think laps, not miles
    To make the distance more manageable mentally, break it down into shorter segments such as three-mile sections. A 26-mile run will soon become just over eight and a half laps, and suddenly the prospect of a marathon doesn’t seem quite so daunting!

  • 4. Distract yourself from the distance ahead
    It’s a good idea to have a few ways to distract yourself from the mileage ahead. Listen to music, audio books or a podcast if the race allows, and think of how far you’ve come rather than how long is left to go. I also recommend doing a mental scavenger hunt during the race – trying to find someone wear a costume, particular vest or colour shirt!

  • 5. Lean on people for support
    Going on the journey with friends, family or colleagues helps keep those motivation levels up. Whether they have signed up for the event with you, or simply want to support you from the side-lines on the day, lean on them for the support in the lead up to the day, during the race, and, of course, after! It makes the success of finishing the marathon that little bit sweeter!

Once the hard work is over and you’ve completed the race, it’s likely you’ll be in need of some aftercare. In fact up to 10 million Brits have taken part in physical challenges like marathons or Tough Mudder style races and of those, 4.5 million have sustained an injury during the challenge itself or whilst training according to recent research and further still, three fifths of those who sustained an injury never saw a physio or GP about it – making for worrying statistics.
“While the frustration of inactivity can make it tempting to grit your teeth and train through injury, relatively minor things like partial tendon tears and soft tissue damage can grow into much bigger problems, causing mobility issues and long term pain if left unchecked,” says Hannah Zreik, from the physiotherapy team at Bupa Health Clinics. “Whether it’s training for a specific sporting event or just working on your personal fitness, don’t ignore your body if it’s in pain and telling you to stop. Rest for a few days, and if the discomfort persists see a physiotherapist. This is the quickest way to get you back to your routine, while preventing long term damage.”
Here, Hannah offers advice on treating and avoiding the most common injuries.
Cartilage damage – cartilage can be irritated with increased loading, for example from lots of deep squats

How to treat: It depends on the extent of the damage. It’s really important to rest to allow the soft tissue to heal. Apply an ice pack for pain relief and to manage swelling when you can. Minor soft tissue injuries will probably get better within six weeks. If your knee pain is reducing your ability to take part in normal activities over a long period of time, it’s really important to see a physiotherapist or your GP. When you’re ready to start training again, speak to your physio. They may suggest that you slowly build up the number of squats you’re doing, and in some cases may also recommend using a knee brace to reduce your symptoms. They’ll also give you exercises to help you get back up and running safely and effectively.
How to avoid: Squat properly by standing with your feet apart – just a bit wider than your hips. Point your toes slightly outward. Put your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground, keeping your spine in a neutral position. Send your hips backwards as your knees begin to bend. Make sure you keep looking straight ahead, as you squat until your hip joint is lower than your knees. I’d also recommend seeking advice from a physiotherapist as they’ll be able to help identify any other reasons why you have sustained your injury. This may include looking at how you run.
Groin pull
How to treat: As soon as you realise you have pulled your groin muscle, apply an ice pack. This will help to reduce the swelling or bruising and help with reducing pain. For this type of injury it is important you get some early advice and intervention. It is best not to start doing stretches too early, as it can lead to a longer recovery time.
How to avoid it: Warming up and stretching is important before exercising. Exercise regularly and increase the intensity of your workouts gradually.

Lower back pain

How to treat: In the first instance, put either a hot or cold pack on the sore area (whichever feels best for you). Avoid sitting or lying down for long periods of time and do a series of stretches throughout the day. It’s important to find a position that eases your symptoms. Child’s pose and doing some pelvic tilt stretches may help to alleviate the pain.

How to avoid it:
Make sure you do not sit or stand for long periods at a time. Exercise regularly and work on core strengthening, pilates or yoga exercises can help with this. Tight muscles around the hip may also contribute to lower back pain so simple hip stretches can help improve your mobility and reduce the load on your lower back.

Shin Splints
How to treat: As with any injury or pain, if you begin to develop shin pain, listen to your body and reduce or stop the aggravating activity. There are a number of reasons why people experience shin pain, including an inconsistency in walking frequency or intensity. This often leads to the structures around your shin being overloaded and leading to pain. Other possible reasons are incorrect footwear, poor flexibility or poor core and lower body strength. If you experience pain, it is important to plan your return to exercise gradually. If the pain doesn’t go away, see your GP or a physiotherapist.
How to avoid them: Make sure you wear suitable shoes – specialist running shops can give you advice on which is best for you. Strengthen and stretch your calves, and consider exercising on grass or other soft surfaces as this can help reduce the impact on your shins and prevent shin splints developing.

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