Managed to win a spot at this year’s London Marathon? Then you’ll be in full on training mode by now, gearing your legs and your mind up for race day! Below we’re sharing marathon training tips from 4 different wellbeing experts so you can stay injury free and fighting fit in the final few weeks.
Dr Emma Derbyshire, Nutritionist
Your nutritional choices during training will have an impact on increasing your energy levels, stamina, preventing dehydration and optimising your recovery time during these crucial weeks and months. Upping your protein intake is one of the most important moves you can make when it comes to marathon prep. It helps you build muscle, recover quicker and avoid injury. Runners need about 50 to 75 per cent more protein than non-runners, which equates to around 200g of protein a day which can come from a variety of sources e.g. lean meat, oily fish, beans, lentils, or tofu.
Adequate hydration is always important. In the run up to a marathon, it’s as important to hydrate when you aren’t training as when you are. Fluids regulate your body temperature, flush out damaged cells and ensure that your joints are adequately lubricated. When you’re actually running, aim to drink 3-4 sips of fluid for every 15–20 minutes you’re running.
The best time to eat before a run is 30-60 minutes before you start. Smaller snacks are better as they digest more easily, but will still give you that welcome turbo boost of energy. Ideally, what you’re looking for is a nice balance of proteins and carbohydrates – a wholemeal bagel topped with a scoop of peanut butter or sliced banana for example. You should also try to eat a recovery snack of carbs and protein within 30-45 minutes of finishing a long run.
In terms of supplements, I always recommend taking a multivitamin & a fish oil. Vitamins play a key role in the nutrition for endurance. Fish oil is full of omega 3 which for runners may help to ease inflammation and reduce lactic acid build up in the muscles. B vitamins are important for energy metabolism to help you keep going for longer and magnesium also helps transport energy to your muscles and assist in muscle contraction.
William Kenton, Physiotherapist and spokesperson for Mentholatum
Preparation is key! When training for a marathon stick to a marathon training plan to give you structure. Most plans are 16 weeks in duration and build the amount of running incrementally. This will prevent you potentially doing too much, which could lead to injury. Rest is just important as your running plan and you should aim to get at least 8 hours sleep a night during training. This allows your body time to recover and reduce the likelihood over training injuries.
Supplementing your running with different activities is also a great way to avoid injury. Yoga and Pilates for example, build muscle strength and improve joint mobility which are both important for reducing your injury risk.
Stretching after your runs can help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).The Mentholatum “Mind Your Back” campaign sets out five stretches which only take a minute or two, but will reduce stiffness, boost circulation and ease pain.
You might also try the Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-on-Lotion (Available at Boots (£4.99). It combines heat and massage therapy and using it before a run can help prep muscles prior to exercise. It is drug-free, has a pleasant herbal fragrance and comes in a convenient bottle, perfect for a kit bag. After your run, reach for Deep Freeze Pain Relief Glide-On Gel (Available from Boots, £4.99) provide fast, cooling, soothing pain relief on any aching muscles.
Craig Dyce, Personal Trainer
Strength and core exercises are the perfect complement to running. Core strength plays a vital role in stabilising your entire body during running by maintaining a neutral pelvis and keeping your form when you’re fatigued. For runners, sometimes a slight imbalance in the body will go on to create problems because it’s such a repetitive movement that you’re doing. Even a small adjustment in your posture or in your core stability can make a huge impact. Yoga and pilates are great for strengthening core muscles. I also always make sure my clients warm up and cool down before any training session to avoid injury, especially when training for a marathon so try to warm-up with dynamic stretches to get the blood flowing before you set off.
Cory Wharton-Malcolm, Nike+ Running Coach & founder of Track Mafia
Most typical marathon training plans are 12 to 16 weeks long. During this time, you’ll typically run three to five times a week, increasing your mileage as you get nearer to race day. On the other days, you can cross train, do some low intensity exercise, active recovery and, most importantly, rest your legs, allowing them to recover. If you’re a complete beginner, it’s best to start with a training plan designed to get you round the course. However if you do have a realistic time in mind make sure you also have a bronze and silver time to go with your gold goal.