5 tips to prevent injuries while running
Spoiler alert, these tips don't come from running coaches nor from expert marathon runners, they only come from my day-to-day running experience. It is not much, but I have learned a few tricks after some good and bad experiences.
There are obvious things that every coach will tell you to do: like having well-adjusted running shoes, stretching at the end of the session or drinking a lot of water. Those are all running 101 tips that you have to follow no matter what. This article is about all the little things that can make your marathon become a nightmare.
Think about anything that annoys you for a 5K or 10K and now imagine if the effect that these things had on you for 5K was 8 times bigger, it is exactly what will happen. So you need to make sure that your 5K, 10K or half-marathons don’t cause you any particular pain (other than muscle pain on your leg of course) because it is going to be a lot worse for 42km and it would be a shame to throw the towel before the finish line because of an injury.
1. Cut your toenails short.
It might sound silly and you will not find this kind of tips on most the running blogs but I did notice that during the first week of my marathon training I found my sock to be bloody and it was the result of one of my toenail being too long and slightly cutting the adjacent toe. It is not the type of injury that takes you out of your training for a month obviously but it is these little things that will make your race a nightmare when it should be your victory moment! I actually took a picture of my foot after the run, because I thought it could be worth showing it, so you can see the reality of what it could be. But after looking at it a few days later, I realized that no one should ever see such an ugly foot. So please, just believe what I said and cut your toenails short. But in case you really want to suffer and watch my epic photo, contact me via Facebook, Instagram, But remember that I told you it was ugly!
2. Never be too cold.
I think people, in general, have a tendency to think that since they are going to run, their bodies will warm up (so far so good) and then they could anticipate their future warm state to determine what they should wear when they start their training or the race. You could adopt this strategy, if you do good warming up session before the race and then you can start the race with less gear on you that’s fine I guess. But when it comes to training, please be warm from the first second. Don’t think that having a pair of gloves that you will put in your pockets or having an extra jumper that you will tidy around you after 15 min is going to decrease your performances. I believe that it will increase your performance to not feel the cold in the first place. And yes, maybe it will be less convenient to be forced to take a layer off but overall you win. Being too cold will also create this weird state at the beginning of your training when you will be pushed to increase your speed in order to warm up quicker which will then affect your training… So be warm and put an extra layer even when you think: “Nah, I’ll be fine”...
The opposite is obviously important too. But I have rarely seen people been covered too much. It might be because personally I am a cold person. I am always cold. And the worst thing is that I live in the UK, where everyone seems to be born in the North Pole. You cannot imagine how people look at me when I come to Park run or to my running club wearing a winter jacket and long tights when everyone is wearing shorts… No comment. So, I let you be the judge of what is too cold or not, but just don’t think it is found to be freezing for the first 15 min just because you are eventually going to warm up. Be warm and comfortable from the beginning and you will never regret it!
3. Look for cuts and little burn on your body
Sometimes new clothes or even old ones, will cut you a little or create some small rash on your skin. The effect of these little things is going to be duplicated a loooot during a Marathon. So if anything hurts even a little bit don’t ever think: “Nah I’ll be fine”. Instead, find a way to run again the same distance you did without having these effects anymore. And then you will be fine. I have the example of my mother in law, Marianne, who once had a sports bra which was burning her a little bit. Nevertheless, she ran a Marathon with it. The effect during a marathon was catastrophic, she literally finished in blood. And in her case, the result was still pretty good because she managed to finish but sometime these little things will block you from accomplishing your dream. So, make sure your gear is well adjusted and not giving you a hard time during your training and it will be fine for your long runs.
4. Keep your diet consistent when the D-Day comes.
Everybody knows that the diet you will follow during your training, and in the days previous to the race, is going to have an impact on how well you will be the D-Day. For this reason try to make any changes to your diet, a long term change. I wouldn’t advise starting to eat differently a few days previous to the race. And especially not eating the special marathon meal packs that some companies offer. Or, if you really want to eat these packs, then make a test run, try to eat them for 2 weeks during your training and see if it makes you feel better or not. Personally I don’t like “scientifically studied” meals, but you will also find out that I am not the best when it comes to dietetics. My love for chocolate and hummus are usually winning over my willingness to eat healthily. But anyway, if you want to start eating these programs that some companies are offering try it before because I got bad feedback from them from my father in law, Jean-Charles. He tried to eat these prepared meals during the last week before the marathon and they made him feel so sick while running that he actually had to abandon the race… It doesn’t always go that bad, and I am sure that some dietetic programs are really good, I am just saying: try it first, please!
You could also anticipate and look at the sponsors of the race because usually one of the sponsors will be the “food provider” of the event so why not start eating their snack beforehand and prepare your body for it.
5. Bath your feet in cold water after the run.
Aah blisters! The best enemy of the runner! You will find a lot of technics and advice on how to avoid them. I will share my complete “Feet care routine” in another article. But for now, one small piece of advice would be to keep your feet into cold water when you came back from your run. The idea is pretty simple. Blisters come from skin burning and cold water will stop the burning to progress. Personally, it also feels pretty relaxing to spend 30 min on the sofa with my feet in a bucket. I have a much better feeling of my feet after that. Try it and let me know if you feel any differences.
I hope you enjoyed these little tips and if you have some you want to share here to by all means, please share them here. The Marathon Experience is an attempt to gather information and help everyone achieving their goals. So, please, enlighten us!