The running landscape has changed quite a bit as a result of the global pandemic. Running a marathon, even virtually, is perhaps one of the most challenging accomplishments that a person may embark on in their lifetime, requiring both physical and mental strength. During training and on race day, physical limitations are pushed to the brink via muscular and respiratory fatigue. Mental willpower is tested as oftentimes you keep going when everything else in your body is telling you to “stop.” Preparation is paramount for success in running a marathon, and though choosing a correct endurance plan and running group is important, there are other components that will help you run your next 26.2-mile journey with even greater success.
Most marathon training plans are 16 to 20 weeks long, consist of three to five runs each week, and increase your mileage as you near race day.1 Training plans are essential to follow as they help participants get used to running long distances at specific paces, as well as allowing rest time for the body to recover. However, there are other factors aside from endurance and increasing mileage that need to be considered as well. The end of certain training plans suggests running upwards of 35 miles per week. As this mileage leaves you feeling sore, you may ask, “how do I know what is good pain versus bad pain?” “Are my muscles strong enough to withstand doing this in the first place?” “Am I at greater risk for developing a stress fracture?” All of these are valid questions, so knowing where to find the correct answers and adding supplementary materials to your training may help.
Injuries from training for a marathon are very common. In a study of 161 runners performed by the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, it was found that nine out of every ten runners reported a running-related injury from overuse at some point during the sixteen weeks leading up to training for a half or full marathon.2 That seems like an intimidating number. Fortunately, with the correct program, professional help, and strengthening of important muscles, runners may reduce their risk of developing overuse injuries.
There are certain muscle groups that tend to be forgotten during training but are essential to improving your running performance. For example, your gluteus maximus muscle is one of the strongest muscles in the human body and is critical for running. It performs an action called “hip extension,” which happens during every step of running. Other important areas for running are stabilizing your core musculature, strengthening your hip abductors and training your quadriceps, as these will all improve lower extremity stability. Having adequate flexibility in your legs is also important and stretching should be incorporated after each run.
There are several exercises that can easily be added to your workout routine, either before beginning or during your marathon training. Below, a list of several exercises to try are provided. Supplementing your race training program with thorough strengthening and flexibility exercises will benefit your overall fitness level prior to embarking on your journey.
Each person is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses. In order to identify some of these, reach out to an Athletico physical therapist for a free assessment or evaluation. Our endurance experts will perform a thorough motion screen and evaluate your strength at your first appointment, providing you with a game plan to successfully accomplish your goals and keep you running strong! Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.
Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico. Schedule a free assessment in-clinic or virtually through a secure online video chat where our team can assess your pain and provide recommended treatment options.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. McGuire, Jane. “How to Run a Marathon – Free Marathon Training Plans for Every Kind of Runner.” Runner’s World, Runner’s World, 21 Nov. 2019, www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/marathon/a776459/marathon-training-plans/
2. Franke, Thierry P.c., et al. “Running Themselves Into the Ground? Incidence, Prevalence, and Impact of Injury and Illness in Runners Preparing for a Half or Full Marathon.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, vol. 49, no. 7, 2019, pp. 518–528., doi:10.2519/jospt.2019.8473.