Preparing For a Marathon

Think you can’t run that marathon? Think again. If you’re in good cardiac health, preparing and training your body to go the distance can be achieved in a few months.
You can go the distance, with preparation

Pushing through “the wall” when aiming to run over 26 miles requires a healthy head start.

The wall is a common term in running, which refers to the point at which athletes run out of energy because of depleting resources. Aisiling Linehan, doctor of physical therapy at Performance Spine and Sports said some athletes can bust through and run a marathon with as little as three months of training.

“That is for somebody who works out regularly and doesn’t have any cardiac issues or physical limitations,” said Linehan. But she cautions that those just starting their fitness journey should start smaller and set other goals such as a running a 5k first. “A lot of my patients really benefit from couch to 5k programs. You run until you walk, then you run again. Eventually you will find you don’t have to walk. A lot of people say it’s a great way to build up stamina.”

Linehan said one of biggest mistakes people make is to over train and end up with an overuse injury. When asked at what point a runner is ready to go the distance, she said when they are able to run at least 20 miles.

Linehan, who has run two marathons and several shorter races, such as a Tough Mudder, has never had a running injury. She said one of the activities she does to remain injury free is yoga, which she is certified to teach.

She said even before starting endurance training athletes should focus on strength training. “Yoga, balance training and core strengthening are all helpful.”

The most common injury she sees in runners is hip bursitis, which is inflammation of the hip. She said there are two common, and preventable, causes for this hip pain, weak glute muscles and poor frontal plane control.

In order to combat this she recommends certain strength training exercises. One, which can be done at home with no additional equipment, is a side-plank. The steps to a side plank are to lie down on the ground on one side with knees straight. Prop the upper body up using the elbow and forum, directly under the shoulder. Activate core muscles, then raise hips until the body forms a straight line from ankle to shoulders.

The work of getting into marathon shape can be hard but Linehan said it’s worth it.

“I think it’s a great goal and you feel very accomplished afterwards,” she said.

She is gearing up for her next marathon, the Vancouver. She works at Performance Spine and Sports located at 4056 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 111 in Lawrenceville, N.J.

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