Injury-proof your marathon training

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With just under three weeks to go until the big day, it’s important to look after your body through your final few runs. So we asked physiotherapist Lucy Macdonald for her top tips for staying injury-free

Make sure you’re on top form for race day with Lucy’s expert advice:

Be dynamic
Never ever do static stretches before running. Instead include dynamic stretches, such as high knees for 20 seconds (runningon the spot and lifting your knees to hip height), as part of your warm up. Static stretching slows down your muscle reaction times, just when you want them to be more responsive, affecting your performance and making you more susceptible to injury.

Get the right shoes
After about 400 miles running shoes won’t give you the support and shock absorbency you need. Don’t wait until the last minute to change your shoes as you need time for them to mould to your foot shape. Try to change your shoes no later than six weeks before you embark on a marathon. For advice on finding the right shoes check out WF’s experience of a gait analysis test.

Rest up
The vast majority of patients that come to me with injuries have not allowed enough time for rest and recovery – this is just as important as the actual running itself. Prioritise sleep, particularly if you are ramping up your training or recovering from injury. Never do two ‘long runs’ on consecutive days and always have at least one complete rest day a week.

Put it on ice
Ten minutes in an ice bath after your long run, or an intense run, can help to speed recovery by reducing inflammation.

You are what you eat
Never underestimate how important your nutrition is. Throughout your training, but particularly if you are ramping up your distances or recovering from injury, you should make sure you are eating enough vitamins, minerals, protein and slow-release carbs. So lots of vegetables, brown carbs, beans, nuts, seeds and lean meat. Then cut out the bad stuff – alcohol, processed foods, white carbs, sugars and saturated fats. With intense training your body is constantly healing, so make sure it can focus on this and not on processing any rubbish you are putting into your body!

Plan your meals
Don’t carb-load the night before the big day on foods that will block or inflame your digestive tract – you’ll be uncomfortable for 26.2 miles and that’s not fun.

Have a massage
Regular deep sports massages can help to relieve tight muscles and get rid of all the knots you’ve built up during long runs – this will help you run more fluidly and freely on the big day.

Don’t push through the pain
Have pain and injuries assessed and treated immediately, before they cause long-term damage. You wouldn’t believe how many people I see who’ve spent most of their training programme trying to push through the pain before finally addressing a problem. It ruins their race, but could have been treatable had they done something about it earlier.