Allerton Health Centre

Health & Wellbeing

Marathon Running

After several months of marathon training it always feels good to be heading into the final training weeks. Now is the time to focus on your goal and get mentally prepared for race day. However, many runners have difficulty with the last few weeks of training for many different reasons.

Hopefully the following tips will help you through a smooth transition over the next week.

Proper Tapering

Tapering off your training is really important to the success of your marathon. Avoid the temptation to ‘catch up’ on any missed miles! With just a week or two left before the event you will not get any real benefit by extending your training. Most runners should also avoid speed work and races in the tapering period. 

More commonly, first time marathon competitors, or inexperienced runners tend to increase their mileage especially after an injury or illness. Many of my patients have reported they thought they needed extra training or have fallen behind on their marathon program, especially those designed by running magazines. For most runners, a 20-miler two weeks before the marathon will do you more harm than good. Many of my patients will have already developed a running injury during this final two week period.

Rest Days 

Rest days are an essential part of your training just as much as hill-work or the long run. Remember, the goal of your training is to build up your strength to handle the 26.2 mile distance – it’s not to run every day or to run as fast as you can every time you go out.

The recovery days should be strategically built into your schedule for maximum recovery benefit. So, what do you do on your rest day? This is a good time to take care of any aches and pains (see below).

The Psychological Edge

During the tapering period many marathoners feel aches and pains that weren’t there before. This adds to the anxiety level, and the more you fret over it, the worse it will get.

Prevention is always better than cure and minor problems are often the pre-curser to developing more serious injuries. We can provide sports massage therapy that can be beneficial at various stages of participation. This will be tailored to each individuals needs to positively enhance ones ability to perform.

One of the most important contributions massage can make to the injury management process is that during the delivery of routine massage, the trained therapist can discover the minor problems before they develop.

Areas of ‘warning’ include

  • Tight muscles
  • Pain on movement
  • Localised swelling
  • Obvious contour deformity

This is where massage becomes a treatment tool without parallel

If problems are detected specific injury treatment will be provided as needed to enhance and:

  • stimulate circulation post 48 hrs following exercise
  • Promote recovery -Fluid dynamics- increase lymph and blood flow
  • Break adhesions
  • Promote flexibility
  • Increase ROM
  • General well being during the recovery and rehab process

Running is hard on the body and can create impact forces two to three times body weight with each stride, and even more going downhill. It’s no surprise that our muscles, joints and connective tissue get weary from all this shock absorbing. Sports massage is greatly used as a pro active treatment for sports people, you may feel that you do not have an injury but may suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness or otherwise known as DOMS, very typical with hill and speed work. As a pro active treatment sports massage in this instance can

  • Promotes recovery after hard training.
  • Aid cool down
  • Prevent DOMS
  • Psychological well being
  • Promote rest/sleep. Rest is the most under-used intervention in
  • coaching and rehab
  • Detect problems

You have to remind yourself you have just spent the last four months training for the marathon, and you are as fit and ready for the race as you can be. Think about your training runs and focus on the ones you did well and enjoyed. These positive images will help get you through the last ten days.

Post marathon run

A marathon run depletes the body of vital vitamins and minerals, it is essential to keep the body well hydrated days before the event and not just on the day. Post competition travel may cause general stiffness, lassitude, and aches to lower back, neck, and shoulders. Swollen legs and feet are also a common occurrence. Post competition  benefits to sports massage include

  • Assist in the removal of metabolic  Waste
  • Reduction of DOMS
  • Facilitation of natural healing process
  • Niggles/swelling
  • Physiological well being
  • Increase or decrease muscle length

Good Luck - The Physiotherapy Team at the Allerton Health Centre


Article Info

  • Brief:

    Pre and post marathon tips and advice

  • Published on: 04th Oct 2011
  • Written by: Peter Murdoch