What are the common downfalls of a marathon training programme?
Underestimating the demand of a marathon training schedule. It will take over your life for a while! It might mean saying no to social occasions, it will mean staying committed to the run you had planned even if it’s cold or raining outside, you’ll have to be sensible about your diet, you’ll need to get plenty of sleep…. You get the idea!
Overtraining – doing too many miles, too many sessions per week, not valuing the importance of rest days and training through periods of illness are all major causes of injury, burnout and disappointing performance on marathon day.
Ignoring strength training or cross-training – if you only run for the entirety of your programme you’re missing a trick. Strength training can reduce injury risk, improve your times and boost your endurance. Cross training allows you to keep exercising if you want to on ‘rest days’ by using different groups of muscles or building endurance without the same load on your tendons / muscles / bones. For example: try going for an easy swim the day after a hard running session, you’ll be surprised by how much it helps to ease the effects of your run.
Neglecting to build in a ‘taper period’ in your programme. Your longest run should be at least 3 weeks before the big day. This ensures you have the fitness and the confidence to know you can go the distance but allows the body plenty of time to recover, replenish energy stores and feel ready for the actual event. Bear in mind you may pick up the odd niggle or illness during your training period so it’s always helpful to have a couple of ‘spare’ weeks in the plan that allow you to adapt your schedule if necessary.
Always seek physiotherapy advice ASAP if you start to notice pain or symptoms of excessive training fatigue. It’s much easier to resolve a new problem quickly than it is much further down the line. It’s no secret that physiotherapy clinics see a sudden surge of appointments close to race day – but often that doesn’t allow for much time to properly resolve the problem. After all the effort you have put in to achieving your marathon goal, you want to be ready to put your best foot forward on that starting line!