Training for a marathon, or any other distance event, can be incredibly hard on the body. My number one goal going into training for the New York City Marathon was to not get injured before the race even began.
An injury during training can set you back for a few weeks at best, and at worst can make you drop out of the race. These are some of the things that I did which kept me completely injury free throughout my training as well as with during the actual marathon.
1. Foam rolling
The main objective of foam rolling is to restore flexibility and range of motion to very tight muscles, or “knots” of muscle. Breaking up these knots restores blood flow through these tight areas, thereby increasing circulation and allowing oxygen and other mediators to repair muscle tissue.
I used a foam roller immediately after every long run for at least 10-15 minutes.
In addition to foam rolling, yoga helps to relieve tension in joints and lengthens out muscles to increase flexibility and range of motion. You want your muscles to be as flexible and lose as they can be because a tightly bound muscle means a greater risk that this muscle will be stretched beyond its limits.
When a muscle is stretched beyond its limits is when injury can happen. I tried to do at least one hour of yoga each week.
3. Strength training
When you only do cardio you are going to lose muscle – especially if you are running more than 40 miles a week. Strength training increases stability of muscles and helps to improve structural weaknesses in your body, whether in the muscles, joints, or connective tissues.
When one part of your body is slightly weaker than another, this can lead to overcompensation of other muscle groups, which in effect can lead to widespread injury. I always made sure to do a high-intensity strength training class each week.
Protein helps to repair muscle and tissue fibers that get broken down during the training process. Since protein helps muscles heal faster, runners who consume adequate amounts are able to recover quicker after hard workouts and are less likely to get hurt.
Examples of healthy sources of protein include eggs, egg whites, chicken, turkey, fish, and whey protein.
5. Good shoes
Invest in a couple pairs of good running shoes that provide adequate support to your knees and hips. Most fitness and running experts suggest replacing your shoes every 300-400 miles. I follow this rule or if I’m starting to feel any sort of pain in my knees I know it’s time to switch them out. I went through two pairs of running shoes during the 3 month training period, its a good investment.