Top 5 tips for successful Marathon training

Top 5 tips for successful Marathon training

Are you a (previously) non-runner, who has recently started training for this year's Marathon season? Perhaps you're doing London for the first time, or maybe you're stepping up from 5k, or 10k runs to marathon distance?  Either way our top 5 tips will help you stay injury free.

1. Create a training plan

This is the most important thing to do, a majority of the injured people I see, get injured because they run too far, too fast.  There's no point (and it's bad for your bones and joints) to up your distance too quickly. Work back from your Marathon date (leaving a taper week at the end) and you'll know how many miles you'll need to increase per week.  In fact the London Marathon offers free training plans (click here for the beginner's guide).  

The reason for graduating your training is simple, the impact caused from running on a road means your bones have to increase their density to cope with the vibrations, and this takes time. If you don't allow your body time to adapt you can end up with medial tibial stress symptoms (i.e. pain), and/or hairline fractures in your tibia (your shin bone).

2. Get the right shoes

I'm sorry but those £30/£40 trainers you bought from a factory sports outlet are not going to do the job.  Invest in some quality trainers (such as Asics, Brooks, Mizuno) and you're going to save yourself a lot of (potential) discomfort.  Also, if you have a history of pain whilst running, I would also recommend a gait analysis by a sports podatrist (or other suitably qualified running specialist).  Unfortunately, this does not include the staff in running shoe shops; unless you are incredibly fortunate they will not be well trained enough to cope with addressing poor biomechanical function. Better to pay for a professional assessment and get it right, than take 'free' advice and end up having to replace the expensive trainers you just bought.

3. Warm up, warm down

Don't just put your shoes on and start running.  Make sure you warm up first, this will help to stave off injury.  However, unless specifically advised to do so by a qualified professional, avoid static stretching prior to running.  Static stretches lengthen muscles, and lengthening muscles can reduce their power output.  Whilst this may be advantageous to those working on correcting a biomechanical disfunction, it's not that great for everyone else.  

Warming down is also important, the temptation when you've finished exercising is to get straight in the shower, but before you do this you need to do a warm/cool down routine. It is here that you can add in those static stretches.

4. Stay hydrated

Hydration is one of the keys to keeping your muscles working at their optimum efficiency.  Water isn't going to cut it, you need your fluid intake to be ever-so slightly saline, so your body can absorb it.  (Unless you want to) There's no need to buy expensive sports hydration drinks either, very dilute squash will work just fine.

5. Get a massage (at least once a month)

Use a good Sports Massage Therapist as part of your training programme. They will be able to work on any overly tight muscles, advise you on suitable stretches and (amongst other things) introduce you to the delights of foam rolling.


James Barnett