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Be a Better Marathoner - with Chris Wardlaw and Colin Symmonds

Posted by John Ellis on

Last night, we had the privilege of hosting two-time Olympian and Australian track and field head coach, Chris Wardlaw, for the secrets to becoming a better marathon runner.

Unfortunately, there was no silver bullet or pill, with Chris stressing that his 2:11 marathon PB came down to sticking to a good programme, including two long runs per week plus some higher intensity workouts, and generally looking after yourself.

He was joined by Colin Symmonds, physio guru at Joint Dynamics, who gave us some the lowdown on some common running injuries, plus some cracking injury prevention tips based around strength training and 3D exercises.

Be a better marathoner – Chris Wardlaw

  • Run long at least once a week to improve aerobic endurance and rhythm.
  • Run long again during the week – it’s the law of specificity that long distance races require long training runs!
  • You need to be "fit" in order to "train". Time permitting, also include one track session, one hill session and one fartlek/interval (short and intense) session per week. All long runs should have some easy, steady and hard. 
  • The hard-easy principle is found in every good programme. Make sure you have recovery days.
  • Use the environment, especially in Hong Kong where you have some wonderful trails to strengthen the whole musculoskeletal system. 
  • Look after yourself and avoid injury. Eat well. Every hour of sleep before midnight is worth twice after. Training through an injury is madness. 
  • Travel light – lose a few kilograms and you’ll shed plenty of time as well.
  • Think in terms of 1-2 year programmes and start from the finish, always thinking how each workout gets you closer to the big goal.
  • Respect the taper and no "super sessions" before big races - except those that haven't trained as you can't taper nothing!
  • Don't forget to “enjoy your running and tap into inner motivation” - Franz Klammer. 

Put your best foot forward – Colin Symmonds, Joint Dynamics

  • Running injuries are trauma or overuse (where wear exceeds repair) and chain reaction biomechanics means where it hurts is often not where the problem is.
  • Achilles tendonopathy is a degenerative overuse injury, which can be prevented with eccentric stretching, plus glute, hamstring and calf strength work. 
  • Plantar Fasciitis heel / arch pain will affect 10% of the population and recovery should include eccentric stretching, needling and strength work, but not anti-inflammatories.
  • Patella femoral pain or “runner’s knee” is a pain at the front of the knee caused by bad tracking and is often caused by a weakness elsewhere. Glute strengthening can be key.
  • A common theme, but strength training is the key to injury bulletproofing as it improves tissue resilience and running economy. Also consider plyometrics, 3D exercises to improve mobility / stability / balance, and more sleep.
  • Training programmes shouldn't over-stress the body – aim for 80% slow / 20% fast, gradual changes, one goal for each run, and don’t forget the rest weeks and destressing!

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