Marathon Fitness Tip Sheet from Harris & Ross

Jeff Ross and Rob Harris

Sports Tours have teamed up with world famous sports physiotherapists Harris & Ross to bring you some great tips for your training coming towards the date of your chosen marathon.

When you’re within 8 weeks of a race date, you should now be in the most critical and potentially most dangerous phase of your training with regard to injury. These 10 tips will help both to prevent injury during this critical phase and set you up to help maximise your performance in the event itself.

1. Donít Over train & Donít Play Catch Up

Your body will tell you when you’re training too much—a common pitfall during this critical high-mileage, high-intensity period—but you have to listen. Some signs are obvious, like fatigue, catching a cold, or muscle soreness that lingers for several days. Others are subtle: you’re irritable, you’re feeling unmotivated, or you aren’t sleeping that well. The cure-all is rest. Don’t run for a day or two but as importantly don’t try to catch up missed sessions by lengthening your long runs and cramming hard workouts closer together. The worst thing you can do is train harder than usual the minute you resume training.

2. Recover, Recover, Recover

If you are relatively new to running and training, you don’t have to train hard seven days a week. You have to train smart three or four days a week. This was proven in a 1994 study at the University of Northern Iowa, where four-time-a-week runners performed just as well in a marathon as those training six times a week and covering 20 percent more total miles.

3. Cool down & Stretch Out

Finish every run with at least 10 minutes of slowing to a gentle jog or even a walk. A cool down allows your body to process lactic acid and redistribute blood flow allowing you to recover better for the next session. Stretching is essential for runners, especially for the hamstrings, quads, calves, lower back and hip flexors especially in this phase so that accumulated fatigue doesnít create changes in your normal muscle length leading to injury.

4. Ice

Ice any sore or tender spots after running. After long runs, consider taking a 10-minute ice bath (mix cold water and a bag of ice). The recirculation of blood following an ice treatment invigorates the cells with oxygen and promotes recovery boosting training performance on subsequent runs and minimising the potential for injury.

5. Freeze the pain

When you’re training hardest, soreness, aches, and pains are unavoidable—and if you ignore them, they can lead to an injury. When they occur, back off a little on your training, and ice the afflicted area several times a day for 20mins at a time for at least 48 hours to increase blood flow and promote healing by reducing swelling and inflammation. . Don’t go into denial because you’re afraid it will mean a layoff. Instead, deal with it immediately. If it hurts throughout two consecutive runs, visit a specialist sports physiotherapist.

6. Regular Massages

Regular massages are most valuable during your heaviest training months because they can hasten your recovery from workouts and help keep you injury-free. The best time for a massage is the day after your long run or after a speed workout, when those kinks need to be kneaded the most. A good massage therapist will zero in on your tightest muscles. Find a specialist in sports massage.

7. Eat right

Boost your immunity. You’ll be especially susceptible to colds and flu during this period in your training so reinforce your immune defenses with foods rich in antioxidants and glutamine. Beans and raw spinach are good sources for both. On days when your diet isn’t optimal, pop a multivitamin as insurance. Also, it’s important for your immune system and for performance to take in carbohydrates before, during, and after runs of an hour or more. These can take the form of solids, liquids or gels. Each person and each personís stomach will have a different preference for which during running. Trial these on your longer runs now and settle on a nutritional strategy that works for you well in advance of the race itself and stick to it! Do not try anything new on the day!

8. Hydrate

Dehydration can have a profound effect on marathon performance. Runners who blow by the initial marathon water stops tend to be reeled in during the later stages of the race as the onset of “thirst” (meaning you are an hour late in your hydration strategy) will trigger an approximate 15 percent decline in their performance capability. Runners should aim to replace 0.5-1 liters of fluid each hour during runs, preferably implementing an electrolyte-rich beverage that suits their stomach. Practise hydration strategies on your long runs now!

9. Travelling

It is a good idea to pack the items you need for the competition into your carry-on luggage to insure baggage-handling errors on arrival won’t affect your chances of entering the race. Request an aisle seat so you can stretch out a little more and can get up and down more easily to stretch your legs on the plane. Drink plenty of water during the flight to prevent dehydration.

10. Compression tights

Wear Compression tights on the flight to the event. They minimize the effects of cabin pressurization causing swelling in the lower limb and ankles. Put them on under your clothing before you travel and leave them on until after you have reached your destination. Youíll be surprised at just how much better your legs will feel after the journey and minimise the chances of injury during your pre event runs!

Harris & Ross

Rob Harris and Jeff Ross have brought together a team of highly qualified physiotherapists, specialising in sports and spinal physiotherapy, sports massage therapy, foot care, podiatry, and muscular skeletal conditions, to form Harris & Ross Sports & Spinal Physiotherapists.

With over twelve years experience working as a specialist sports and spinal physiotherapist, Rob Harris has held a number of high-profile positions, including Head Physiotherapist for the Great Britain Rugby League team. He has also held the Head Physiotherapist positions at both Manchester City Football Club and Wigan Warriors Rugby League club respectively. Along with business partner, Jeff Ross, Rob has worked with the New Zealand National and Olympic football teams, and is also a FIFA appointed and endorsed physiotherapist.

Jeff holds a Masters degree in Physiotherapy and with twelve years experience under his belt, has worked with the New Zealand Academy of Sport providing treatment to the New Zealand Davis Cup squad, national athletics team and the New Zealand Rugby Union team. He has also worked as Head Physiotherapist at Sale Sharks Ruby Union Club, and Head Physiotherapist and Medical Manager at Manchester City Football Clubís elite youth academy.

With clinics in Manchester City Centre, Wilmslow, Altrincham, Wigan and Bolton, Harris & Ross treats a huge number of conditions, ranging from headaches, neck and shoulder pain, through to chest, back and knee pain. The Wilmslow, Altrincham and Wigan clinics are located within the Total Fitness gymnasiums enabling specialised rehabilitation and conditioning programmes to be implemented.

Harris & Ross applies the same principles it uses in the care of premier league athletes as it does when treating individuals suffering from musculoskeletal injury or pain. The team implements personalised solutions for their clients, based on a thorough diagnosis of the underlying cause of the problem. Each individual then receives a treatment and rehabilitation programme focused on his or her specific needs to aid recovery.

For more information about Harris and Ross, please visit:

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