Injury During Marathon Training – Avoid the 7 Big Running Showstoppers!

injury during marathon training

What can you do to avoid injury during marathon training? Well...

Are you a careful driver at traffic junctions?

Or, are you often tempted to jump the lights?

No, you haven't inadvertently landed on a road safety blog.  

At least, not in the literal sense.  

I would like to introduce you to the 'traffic light' approach my clients use to manage any form of running pain.

This stops minor setbacks escalating into full blown, show stopping running injuries. ​

Causes of Running Injuries

Runners preparing for a marathon are particularly susceptible to chronic or overuse injuries.

Causes include...

  • Reckless acceleration above your maximum training load
  • Excessive mileage
  • Repeatedly taking the same or similar routes, and
  • The pounding impact of worn rubber on unforgiving road surfaces

These breakdowns can seriously delay, or even stop you progressing towards your marathon time breakthrough. 

Avoid Running Injuries Using Traffic Lights 

So, let's see how traffic lights can answer the original question...

What can you do to avoid injury during marathon training? 

Firstly, there are the warning indicators.

A full-blown injury, such as a torn muscle is a red light.

STOP running immediately and apply RICE treatment to the injured area (Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate).

Then get advice and treatment from a qualified physiotherapist as soon as possible.

At the other end of the scale, there are the familiar green light soreness and fatigue symptoms that follow most hard workouts.

These are an inevitable consequence of the stress, recover, adapt cycle found in every successful marathon campaign.

As long as you recover properly you are good to go...

More tricky are the amber lights...

Minor, niggling complaints such as a tight calf or sore foot.

Symptoms that you'd ideally stop for, if you weren't in your peak training phase. And on course for a marathon PB!

Using the Traffic Lights to Prevent Injuries 

Pause briefly when the injury risk is amber by applying RICE treatment.

Bring forward a rest day, or replace a run with a bike ride or swim.

The light should then quickly change to green and you can go on with your marathon plan.

If it doesn't, then treat it as a red light...

Stop training immediately and get advice and treatment from a qualified physiotherapist.

By ignoring an amber warning, you run the risk of the light changing to red.

A minor problem then quickly escalates to a full blown injury that takes you off the road completely for some time.

The worst case scenario is jumping a red light...

And then having a crash that keeps you out for months or even longer.

So heed the warning...

Stop for a few weeks and avoid serious injuries such as stress fractures, torn ligaments etc.

Your success in avoiding serious running injuries ultimately depends on whether you jump red traffic lights!

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Long-Term Injury Prevention

I strongly suggest you devise your own long-term running injury prevention strategy.

This will act as your green filter light, keeping you running consistently without enforced stoppages.

Breaking your marathon training schedule down into progressive phases is a smart move. 

An early base conditioning phase, for example, will strengthen your body before the more demanding marathon-specific training starts.

You should also make time whenever you can for strength training, stretching, foam roller exercises and running form drills.

7 Ways to Avoid Injury During Marathon Training

Here then, are the traffic light signals and prevention strategies for the 7 biggest, potentially show-stopping injuries that marathon runners suffer...

1. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is one of the most common overuse injuries among marathon runners:  



2. Runner's Knee or Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is the most common overuse injury among all runners, so be vigilant:  


what is runners knee

3. Shin Splints or Medial-Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is often referred to as the new runner's injury but can affect all of us if we're unwary:


how to prevent shin splints

4. Muscle Strains, Tears and Ruptures are different grades of muscle tissue injury requiring progressively longer recovery:


leg pain causes

5. Achilles Tendinitis is the bane of many marathon runners because it's so difficult to treat:

strained achilles tendon

6. Plantar Fasciitis is another feared injury due to the long rehabilitation period required to conquer it:


torn plantar fascia

7. Stress Fractures when diagnosed usually mean no running at all for at least four to six weeks:


stress fracture tibia

Foam roller exercises feature strongly in the running injury prevention measures above. 

To discover how to get the biggest benefits from this versatile method, watch my free video on The 7 Top Foam Roller Exercises for Marathon Runners!

The key question asked in this article was - what can you do to avoid injury during marathon training?

I hope I've answered this, at least for the common running injuries.

I welcome your comments on how vigilant you've become to heeding amber lights...

And how effective the running injury prevention strategies have been for you.

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