How to prepare for a marathon

Fancy a challenge? Or maybe running a marathon is one of the many bucket list items you’re itching to tick off. With running season in full swing and a number of marathons, obstacle courses and mud runs waiting to be ran, it’s time to get prepped and start training.

We caught up with Grenade® athlete and osteopath Adam Whatley to find out his top tips on preparing for the run of your life. From warming up to stretching the muscles, have a read and get yourself ready for that start line.

“Many people like to challenge themselves and often this brings about the desire to do a marathon. Many keen runners often do regular marathons to work on progress and be personal bests,
whilst others take part in the marathon for a personal challenge or to raise awareness for a charity of choice. During this article, I’d like to discuss preparation training for a marathon, along with tips on injury prevention.

Preparing for a marathon

At the very beginning, set yourself realistic expectations, and think about what your limits are. However, with the right training and preparation, anyone in good health can do a marathon.

1) Give yourself plenty of time

This goes without saying. The more preparation time, the more your chances of success. One of the most common causes of injury is increase mileage too soon. Consistency is the key - run at least
20–30 miles a week regularly with regular rest and recovery, before committing to a marathon.

2) Shorter races

Start small and choose a 5-10k race, or even a half marathon, to mentally prepare yourself for the full race.

How to train for a marathon

Marathon training

Here are the key points you need to understand and work on:

Base mileage

Build your weekly mileage gradually over time, running 3-5 times per week

Distance running

Do a long distance run every 7–10 days so you can train your body to adjust

Alternate speeds

Practice intervals running to increase your power and aerobic capacity

Rest and recovery

Finally, do not collect adequate rest to enable full recovery. This will enable your muscles to deal with increased load gradually whilst preventing injuries. Remember, running a marathon is not about running as far as you can in small spaces of time. But, rather allowing for gradual progress.

Progress with distance running

Building up your weekly distant running. This should be done once every 7–10 days, extending the distance runs by a mile or two each week. Every 4th week skip a long run to allow your body to recover and to prevent injury. Gain confidence and allow your body to adjust to longer distances. Gradually build your peak distance run at around 20 miles.

Rest and recovery

Allow for rest days with NO running! This will allow your muscles recover, aid mental prep and allow for performance gains. Over training will inevitably lead to injury, and injury will set you back
weeks or could even ruin your preparation. Adequate rest and recovery will enable your protection against injury. I often recommend doing soon some very light activities which focuses on flexibility and functional mobility. Light cycling, swimming, yoga, resistance training is also a good idea, if your
energy is up, but do not overwork. A couple of weeks leading up to your marathon, you should reduce your workload and overall mileage to let your body rest.

Footwear

Fundamentally, your trainers need to be practical and comfortable. It may require trying on a few pairs, until you find some which suit. It also is recommended to drop into a running store to get correct fitting. It is often recommended that your running shoes be about one size bigger than you normally wear. This allows for the swelling that can occur with long-distance running.

Core strength and conditioning

This is extremely important for injury prevention in running. This particularly applies to biomechanical control and functional joint strength. Long distance running can often lead to problems and injuries through our kinetic chain - lower back, hip, knee, ankle and foot. Furthermore, strength and balance at the ankle and foot can help prevent injuries in those areas as well.

Common running injuries are often related to fatigue and often presented in tendinitis. Tendon injuries either mild or severe can often be related around the foot and ankle, knee or lower back. Other common running injuries include planter fasciitis, Iliotibial friction syndrome, hip bursitis or shin splints. To help prevent these common injuries you should include balance and functional control exercises in your weekly strength training. If you have been struck by a mild injury or concern – a little rest and rehab early on gives you the best chance for a quick recovery so you can get back out on the road pain free. Ignoring there is mild injuries will often lead to injuries becoming worse and more long-term.

How to start running before a marathon

Below are a few simple stretches and movements to add into your exercise regime to help prevent injury during your marathon training:

Calf stretches

Calf tightness is common, especially for runners. It's important to regularly stretch this area when training for a marathon to avoid injury.

How to prepare for a marathon

Glute stretch

Weak gluteal muscles can often lead to excessive anterior pelvic tilt which, in turn, can lead to increased lumbar curvature and a number of running injuries. Not only can weak glutes lead to running injuries, it can also lead to reduced efficiency and performance during running.

Hip flexor

Hip flexibility is key when training for a marathon or just for recreational running.

What stretches should before running

Are you planning on taking part in any runs or marathons this year? Can't decide which you want to give a go? Well, head over to our blog to read all about the best runs to sign up to this year. For more training tips and advice on how you can avoid injury in the run up to your event, follow Adam over on Instagram.