My journey to Bournemouth marathon and the training plan
In March this year, I was very busy training for the London marathon, my first marathon. When training I saw an ad for the Bournemouth marathon, and I was crazy enough to sign up for it. As I’m writing this, I’m 1 week away from it. This year I have done more running than ever. As I have now gone through 2 marathon training schedules I thought I’d share the ups and downs of this journey.
After the London marathon
After finishing the London marathon I had 2 weeks of reduced training, both running and gym. However, I did do a couple of runs. After months of loading your joints and tendons, suddenly stopping can cause them to strain and may cause injury. Tendons like having a steady load through them. After the worst aches have reduced try to go out for a 30-minute jog. You can do gentle intervals as well. This way your body recovers better. If you’re injured and can’t run, please come and see us.
London Marathon was on the 28th of April, and the Bournemouth marathon is on the 6th of October. So, I’ve had a 5 months gap. A marathon training program is around 3-4 months, so I had 1 month where I could do shorter runs and focus on strengthening and mobility work. When running, especially longer distances, it’s important to keep the muscles strong and have the flexibility to be able to run smoothly. By using your muscles in a different way, you reduce the repetitive strain and can more easily stay injury-free. If you want some ideas, you can read the article “All you need to know about running a marathon from physiotherapist Rebecca Nygren” on the Physio Company website.
My training for this marathon officially started at the beginning of July. Starting with shorter runs, which were a mix of interval and hill runs and steady pace. The steady pace run at the weekend slowly crept up in distance as the weeks went on. Short runs help build up stamina as well as speed. Interval training means going between aerobic and anaerobic systems. Anaerobic exercise is high intensity and helps increase and improve your oxygen intake. This means that when you do your steady long runs (aerobic activity) you can go for longer without the same aches and fatigue in the legs. The reason for a slow steady increase in the longer runs is to allow the body to get used to these distances, and not risk overload the body. My longest run was 3 weeks before the marathon, 32km or 20 miles. Before a marathon, you don’t need to complete the full distance. If you have trained for it, you will be able to do the last 10km. It’s unnecessary load on your body to do the full distance. The final 2 weeks involved tapering off to let the body recover.
Training has gone 90% to plan, with 2 missed long runs due to time and life in the way. Many people often ask me if this is an issue. This depends on what your aim is. If you are aiming for a slower time or simply just finishing, then missing a few runs is fine. All the groundwork gets done anyway. The more precise and motivated you are for a specific time, the more you need to be strict with your training plan.
Midway through my training, I had a small issue with right-sided heel pain the morning after my runs. This is a problem that a lot of long-distance runners face. Increased load through the heel and Achilles tendon can cause inflammation and strain. There are many causes, such as a sudden increase in training, running on new surfaces and more strength or mobility. For me, it was 2 issues. The first was that I had changed running shoes shortly after the London marathon. After 2 months of short-distance running, they were already wearing out. After getting a new pair again I improved. The most important part of getting new shoes is to get ones that are as close to the old pair as possible. I recommend bringing the old pair to a running or sports shop and ask for help. My second issue was stiffness in my right hip and low back. If your hip doesn’t move smoothly on 1 side the leg will start to rotate inwards causing the rest of your lower limb to compensate for it. It caused my ankle to stiffen and the heel to get sore. After 1 month of mobility and strength exercises, alongside my running, my pain was gone. I did glute and hip flexor stretching along with hip opening exercises (see “All you need to know about running a marathon from physiotherapist Rebecca Nygren” on the Physio Company website). I also strengthened my Achilles and worked on my ankle mobility.
The final week is here. I am now doing less running, but continuing mobility exercises and low-level activities such as swimming. The reason behind this is that the body needs to heal itself and recover from all the training it’s been put in. It will have created small micro-injuries. This is nothing serious, but if the body can recover from them then the marathon will feel a lot smoother and easier (if we can use that word). Mixing in a cross-training session, can give your feet a break but keep the muscles active as they recover. If you want more info on training and nutrition to see the previous article: “All you need to know about running a marathon from physiotherapist Rebecca Nygren”.
Kumar Ghosh, A. Anaerobic Threshold: Its Concept and Role in Endurance Sport. Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, 2004; 11(1): p 24–36.