Injuries befall runners of all distances, and at some point or another we all get them, but for most recreational runners, a common time for this to happen is when you can least afford for it to. When training for a marathon.


Why do people get injured in marathon training?

Often it comes down to over-training in some capacity. Generally when I speak to injured runners seeking advice, the number of miles/amount of time they’re running and the intensity of those miles are their first assumptions for injury cause, and whilst that’s usually true in part, it’s not the whole story.

The muscles and connective tissue are what get damaged. For cardiovascular fitness to be high enough to run a marathon at the person’s target pace, they have to run a certain number of miles with those muscles, so why not work on those muscles in preparation?


My backstory

Throughout my teens and early twenties I was constantly injured, always in pain after runs and rarely able to string together more than about 6 weeks of “meh” training before I had to stop through injury. This included a solo marathon attempt at 17 years old that ended at mile 23 with excruciating hip and knee pain that left me limping for over a week. 

I assumed it was just that I was useless or too vulnerable to run well and for about 7 years I didn’t really try. It wasn’t until I got a diagnosis of being hypermobile around 2018 that I realised what was needed. More strength and less stretching.

Yes, my previous running sessions were garbage as I later learned, and had been a contributing factor for sure, but a few years down the line I now run much harder and for many more miles whilst being around 6kg (14lbs) heavier than I was back then, but with no pain and very few aches, and a total of only 3 weeks of missed training through injury since 2018. 


What to do if you’re injury prone

Firstly get some help from a physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor or sports massage therapist to assess your physical condition. Then follow their advice on strengthening the needed muscles, and working on the condition of them too. I don’t do much stretching any more, focusing more on strength work (with some at close to, but not quite, full range of motion) and lots of foam rolling.

Check out the types of runs you’re doing and how it relates to your goals. Even if you’re looking to run your first sub 3 hour marathon, you’ll likely be able to do it with around 40 miles of running per week if you’re stronger, saving you time and reducing injury risks in the process.

Muscles and connective tissue can hold you back if you don’t care for them. Challenge your strength gradually and consistently, then keep yourself moving freely. Your chances of injury will likely drop significantly and you’ll be well on your way to running faster over all distances and with little to no pain.


Written by Kyle Brooks, Running Coach based in Norwich, Norfolk