Summer 2019 and I was waiting to hear if I had been successful in applying to the Teenage Cancer Trust for a London Marathon spot. I applied secret, late one evening as a surprise for my second cousin to show my support. He was 17 and fighting leukaemia, but also fundraising for the charity that had helped him and his family for two years. Sadly Max passed away and six days later I had an email confirming the spot was mine. I took it as a sign and decided my comfy 6 miles limit will now be 26 miles!

I know there are others in Oswestry who have places and are training and fundraising like me. So with that in mind and with a niggle that was troubling me, I turned to a local expert for advice that has proven vital to my progress over the last few weeks. I visited Wayne Peter at his sports therapy clinic in Active8 Gym, which resulted in some healing treatment and essential advice that has put me back on track. Wayne took me through what us runners should consider when we have such a long training phase for the big event.

When signing up for a marathon (especially your first), one misconception is that it’s all about running – that miles upon miles and physical workouts will help you achieve that golden figure of 26.2. An element of this is true but without ample rest and recovery, you are asking for trouble. Following good recovery protocols is a necessity and should be considered as important as the training itself.

Wayne says, “Here are 5 key recovery strategies you should build into your training:

“Fuel – you should be taking in fluids during longer runs, but it is vitally important to continue to drink water and sports drinks all day. Studies prove even being slightly dehydrated can affect performance. Research indicated that runners who only replaced 75 percent of their sweat lost during exercise, were 3 percent slower than when they rehydrated over 100 percent.

“Consuming carbohydrates and protein after long runs is imperative. Ideally, 4:1 ratios of carbs to protein almost immediately after you finish. This helps the muscles rebuild and regenerate.

“Ice (cryotherapy) – old fashioned but a proven method of recovery. Running can cause a lot of inflammation in the connective tissues in your lower limbs and this is where over use injuries often happen. By reducing the blood flow through icing or an ice bath, the inflammation is reduced.

“Massage – if you can visit a fully qualified Sports Therapist or Massage Therapist it could be worth every penny. Massage helps alleviate and remove tension and metabolic compounds, which become locked into your muscles after exercise. Another tool you can use at home is foam roller, (advice can be found on the internet on how to use). They can be highly useful for recovery.

“Rest – essential and is where the body recovers and regenerates. It doesn’t just mean sleep but also taking time out is important. Marathon training can also be mental torture. Take time out, build in rest days to your schedule and treat yourself. A dramatic drop in performance and significant lingering of fatigue is a signal you are over training. You must rest!

“Pain – not so much a recovery strategy but more common sense. Running through pain or changing your running gait to accommodate it, is a fast track to serious injury.  Try changing your training method to something that doesn’t give you pain like cycling or swimming. If after a short period you still have the problem, seek professional advice. Listen to your body.

“Remember, small changes during training can equal big improvements. We are all built differently and your schedule should be based around you, your current fitness level and lifestyle.”

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