Marathon Training Tips
Running a marathon is an amazing accomplishment sought after by many athletes. Whether this is your first time running a marathon or you are an experienced marathon-participant, there are key steps you can take to stay healthy so you reach your goal and cross that finish line.
“Injuries can dramatically affect a person’s marathon training and they can oftentimes be prevented,” says Douglas Comeau, DO, CAQSM, FAAFP, Director of The Ryan Center for Sports Medicine. “When training for a marathon it’s important to listen to your body.”
There are multiple steps you can take to avoid injury when training for a marathon. First and foremost, drink plenty of fluids so you stay hydrated, including water and electrolytes. Second, invest in the proper gear. Purchase good quality running shoes and replace them after they have worn out, usually after you’ve run 500 miles in them. Also important: good socks. These can minimize painful blisters that distance runners often experience. Always check the weather forecast and make sure you dress for your run. Don’t overdress, however, because this can cause dehydration.
Once you are hydrated and have your gear, be sure to warm up, cool down, and stretch every time you run. Warming up gradually prepares your heart, lungs, and muscles before you physically exert the effort that is required when you run. Warming up can include brisk walking, gentle loosening exercises, or light jogging. After you’re done training, you should immediately cool down so your body’s functions can gradually return to their normal rates, instead of abruptly stopping. Stretching after you cool down is important because this is when your muscles are loose. Hold your stretches for 20-30 seconds and repeat each one a couple of times. This is a key component in preventing injury when you’re training so frequently.
Some aches and pains are normal when marathon training as your body puts excessive force on muscles that it may not have used as much before. Schedule days to rest and alternate between difficult and easier training days to give your joints and muscles a break. If the pain persists, it is a good idea to be evaluated by your doctor so you don’t injure yourself to the point of being unable to run the marathon you’ve trained so hard for.
The Ryan Center for Sports Medicine at BU offers a range of services beneficial to runners who may be experiencing recurrent pain. To learn more about the care offered or to make an appointment, please call 617-358-3400 or visit www.bu.edu/sportsmedicine.