Marathon Training Before Marathon Training



by Paul Young, BS, CPT

Most people start training for a marathon about 4 months out from the race. There are calendars you can follow with the length of your runs and which days of the week to do them. While this is great, many people have to give up their training, or face big setbacks, due to injury. If you’re thinking of running Chicago’s marathon in October, or any marathon in the future, the winter is the perfect time to begin your training. Use these cold months to prep your body to make it through those long runs of summer injury free!

Some of the most common injuries for marathoners are shin splints, hamstring issues, patellar tendinitis, IT band syndrome, and stress fractures. While accidents may happen, most of these problems can be steered around through smart strength training. Further, being stronger means you are able to generate more power, which equals speed!

So what is the remedy for these common injuries? Squats and Dead Lifts!

The cause of shin splints or stress fractures, is usually a bone density issue. The repetitive impact of your feet hitting the road causes stress the bones are not ready to support. Our bones have a “use it or lose it” principle, meaning, if they don’t get overloaded (strength training) during the winter, mixed with a lack of sunlight, they become very susceptible to these two common injuries.

The squat is a great, if not the best, exercise to be doing to increase bone density. It will put good stress on our bones, forcing them to become more dense and ready for high impact. Not only that, but your core will become much stronger, making you able to run with good form for a longer period of time. I speak of running form because that is the usual cause of IT band syndrome, as well as patellar tendinitis.

An important note that when squatting, there must be more, preferably a lot more, weight than bodyweight. Your bones will only become stronger if they feel more weight than your body (overload). The more weight you put on your body, the more dense your bones become. Use your LifeStart trainers to help you with how to squat properly, as well as how to safely progress.

The cause of any hamstring issue, is usually because the muscle is shortened and weak. Think of our lifestyles of sitting in a chair. Your hamstrings are in a flexed (shortened) position for most of the day, and when you go to stand up, you’re using your quads, not your hamstrings. Same with going up stairs, and running. By doing dead lifts, you will both lengthen and strengthen your hammis, and they will love you for it!

Along with those two lifts, pull-ups and push-ups are recommended, but upper body is not the emphasis when it comes to marathon training. However, your core is a huge part staying injury free. Make sure to incorporate planks, farmer carry’s, and paloff presses in your training program. If you’re not sure what those are, make sure to see your fitness center’s exercise specialist so that you can get the most effective workout during your time spent in the gym!

Best of luck and we hope to see you at the finish line with your goal accomplished!

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