James Koole

Marathon runner and product manager sharing tips and advice on how to succeed in the marathon.

Training Tips and Advice

Ramping Up Mileage While Avoiding Injury

When it comes to marathon training, how you start often has a big impact on how you finish.

I’m not talking about the race. I’m talking about how you start your training program. Like the race, if you start your training too fast, you pay for it in the latter stages.

Too much + Too fast = Injuries

Marathon training is tough on the body. It’s a lot of mileage and if you drop right into 50-60kms a week before you’re ready for it, your body will break down and you might find yourself at the start line watching everyone else run while you stand on the sidelines.

The usual recommendation is to keep your mileage increases to no more than 10% per week. That means if you are comfortable with 40km this week, then next week you can add no more than about 4km to the weekly total to avoid injury.

Ramp up your long runs too

You’ll also want to think about a reasonable mileage increase on your longer runs as well. If you have a 15km run one week, then you wouldn’t want to try 20km the following week. Instead, you should increase by 3km (about 20%) and then run that increased long run distance a couple of weeks in a row before taking another step up the long run mileage ladder.

If you don’t increase your mileage in this reasonable way, the injuries you might end up facing include:

  • Shin splints – Pain in the shin area as a result of stress on your lower legs. If you leave shin splints untreated, stress fracture is possible.
  • Plantar fasciitis – Pain and soreness on the bottom of the foot. Foot pain is something that can stop your running plans in their tracks.
  • Knee pain – if you are lucky this will just be some IT band pain on the inside or outside of the knee. If you aren’t, it’ll be around the knee cap and you’ll hear the dreaded words, “runner’s knee”.

Have a good plan

Avoiding injury means taking it easy and following a good training plan. The 18 week Running Room program is a good one for first-timers as it is designed to get you to the start line first and foremost.

Whatever plan you follow, make sure you stick to that 10% rule and if you do end up with some aches and pains early on, take a bit of rest or seek out professional advice or treatment before it gets worse.

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