Running Injury Prevention and Management

Marathon training puts a lot of stress on your body. As a result, injuries are fairly common, especially in the early stages of the training program.

While injury prevention should be a key part of your strategy to get to the start line, the truth is that injury management will likely also become important at some point during the 18 weeks of training.

Not if, but when

It would be great if we could all avoid getting hurt while ramping up to be able to run 42.2km. But that’s not all that realistic given the amount of running required. Whether it’s an overuse issue, or something like a twisted ankle or some tendonitis, something will likely come up that will need managing and treatment.

Athlete's Care in Liberty Village...where I seek out advice and treatment.

Athlete’s Care in Liberty Village…where I seek out advice and treatment.

Many marathon runners will be able to tell you the name and phone number of a good physiotherapist from memory. That’s because when training is underway, they are likely making a few visits here and there to get help.

Treatment could be some deep massage for shin splints or a pulled hamstring. Or it might just be some advice on how to deal with some foot soreness that is getting in the way of regular running.

The smart runner knows when to seek out that advice to keep a small niggle from becoming a serious issue that shuts down training and puts their race plans in jeopardy. If something crops up that is not the usual soreness that comes with lots of running, then don’t hesitate to have a physiotherapist check it out.

Most times they’ll advise you to take it easy for a few days, do some specific stretches or exercises and you’ll be on your way again. Other times they’ll tell you to shut it down for a bit and will come up with a treatment plan to get you back on the road again as soon as it’s safe.

Know your body

Another trait of experienced marathoners is that they truly know their bodies. They know which injuries they can run through, which ones are actually helped by running, and also when to stop and take a break to heal. They’ve learned the difference between a little soreness that is nothing to be concerned about and a sharp pain that tells them to stop running and seek help ASAP.

While stubbornness is also common in runners, it’s a trait that can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the circumstances. Stubbornly pushing through when rest is the proper strategy isn’t smart and can be a ticket to a stress fracture or some other sidelining injury. On the other hand, gritting your teeth and running through some minor aches and pains is sometimes the right thing to do to build strength.

Acupuncture to treat shin splints.

Acupuncture to treat shin splints.

Knowing when to rest and when to continue comes down to experience and knowing your body well.

Eye on the prize

The goal of any marathon plan is to get to the start line ready to attempt 42.2km. That means your body needs to be capable of making it to the finish on race day. Approaching the start line with a bad case of shin splints that are on the edge of a stress fracture isn’t going to end well.

Absolutely, the focus should be on injury prevention. But if you do suffer from aches and pains, don’t hesitate to seek advice on treatment options. The sooner you start to treat an injury, the faster you’ll recover. Often times you can easily manage an injury and continue to train as usual or with some modifications to mileage or speed. If rest is required, take it and don’t panic.

Good luck!

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