Posted by: Joe English | December 15, 2009

Training — Injuries before a marathon revisited

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

In previous posts and videos, we’ve written extensively about strategies for dealing with an injury in the weeks leading up to a marathon. In a popular earlier post called “Dealing with late season injuries before a marathon“, I gave several scenarios along with advice on courses of actions. Also, in our video series, we touched on these concepts in the video “You’re injured, now what?” If you’re searching for information on dealing with an injury in the weeks leading up to a marathon, you may want to start by reading and watching those two items.

Today, I wanted to delve into the topic with another reader question that illustrates the most problematic aspects of suffering an injury before a marathon. In the earlier article, I mentioned the fact that the worst time to suffer an injury would be in the range of 5-7 weeks before a marathon. The reason for this is because the longest runs are happening in that period and if those runs haven’t been completed, then there is usually not enough time to both heal and then get those long runs in before the race.

If the injury were to happen just after (or because of) the longest runs, then the runner actually gets the benefits of those runs and may be able to recover during what would have been their taper period and still be able to run the race. We call this the “Hail Mary” — to borrow a term from the football world — because the runner will have to put all of their eggs in one basket (hoping that the recovery works) and will have to take a leap of faith that their training gave them the distance base that they need to make it through the race. The Hail Mary is a nerve racking experience for both the runner and their coach, but it often works. This is because the benefits derived from the training last longer than the rest period, so they come out of the rest period healed but not totally de-conditioned. (I use the word “totally” in that last phrase very purposefully. There is a loss of fitness during the total rest of this strategy, but the loss in performance is usually off-set in the runner’s eyes by the fact that they can participate in the race at all.)

To continue reading about dealing with late season injuries, click here.


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