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With the Dublin City Marathon just weeks away, be sensible with injury recovery

This week Aidan Curran discusses pre-marathon injuries.

Injury recovery is an important part of marathon training.
Injury recovery is an important part of marathon training.

Aidan Curran is an experienced marathon runner and the man behind the Run And Jump blog.

I MISSED TWO days of Dublin Marathon training last week because of injury.

After months of heavy training and a hard run at the Dublin Half Marathon the previous weekend, the calf and hamstring on my right leg were stiff and sore. As a result, these two muscles were pulling uncomfortably on my right knee in opposite directions like packs of horses.

With the marathon only weeks away I decided to be sensible and see a physical therapist specialising in sports injuries, who gave me excellent treatment and advice. Thankfully it was nothing serious: a mere niggle. The following night I made a cautious but successful return to running.

I haven’t always been so sensible. In the month before the 2009 Paris Marathon I woke up one Sunday morning with the sensation of cheesewire strangling my right shin. Nonetheless I went out for a 16-mile run. You can guess how that turned out.

At the time I was living in Paris, where running wasn’t booming and physios weren’t sporty. A scan on my injured leg revealed a calf muscle tear – there would be no marathon for me.

I got little sympathy from the quintessentially French doctor: “Why don’t you give up running and take up a proper sport, like cycling?”

Injuries, like Parisian medics, are demoralising, and especially so close to race day. Missing out through injury on a Dublin Marathon that I’ve trained for – lived for – all summer would feel cruel.

This is why I need to reduce the risk of injury in this pre-marathon month. Here’s how.

A good defence against injury is to stretch. Previous physio visits have indoctrinated me with this rule of stretching: “Dynamic before your run, static after”.

In other words, before my run I warm up with dynamic stretches like knee lifts and heel flicks. Then after my run I do the more familiar static stretching of calves, quads, Achilles tendons and so on – the stuff you do leaning against a doorpost or the kitchen worktop. Doing this sort of static stretching before a run, when the muscles are cold, actually increases the risk of injury, so I keep it for afterwards.

Another cause of injuries is a lack of proper recovery after hard training. We all get niggles and aches during training, but over-training can see those small niggles escalate into more serious injuries. The same goes for carrying miles over to next week. Stick to your training plan.

For instance, the demands of real life, combined with darkness falling earlier these September evenings, means it’s tempting to squeeze my weekly long run and threshold run into consecutive days at the weekend. I could get away with this once – but a string of weekends like this would leave me crocked.

Finally, right after an injury is when I’m most likely to get injured again. My instinct is to catch up on the running I missed – but this is a return ticket to the physio’s table. Those miles I couldn’t do last week? I’ve got to bite my lip and write them off. My return to training has to be careful, being attentive to any signs of recurrence.

Unfortunately, despite what football coaches would have me believe, the one thing I can’t do with a running injury is simply run it off.

Aidan Curran is an experienced marathon runner and the man behind the Run And Jump blog.

What training should you be doing less than one week out from Tough Mudder Ireland?

About the author:

Aidan Curran  / Marathon runners blog

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