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The easiest way to prevent a big injury

As the miles build up, so does the fatigue. Here's the easiest way to make it to the start line healthy

Many runners are in the thick of their marathon builds, completing some of their highest weeks of mileage ahead of their fall marathons. This is the time when injuries can crop up as runners complete weeks that are bigger than ever before.

Start of the 2019 SeaWheeze Half-Marathon. Photo: lululemon

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Lots of marathoners will encounter a small injury during their build and this small injury, if it goes unattended, can become a big injury. Runners are programmed to push through discomfort, but there’s a time and place to be tough during training, and running through pain isn’t one of them.

If you feel a small injury beginning, it’s recommended to take a couple of days off instead of pushing through. This sounds obvious, but can be much more difficult in practice than in theory.

Brad Stulberg, co-author of the Passion Paradox, reminded runners of this in a tweet on Saturday. “Hey, athletes in the house: It’s better to take three days off now than three weeks off three days from now.”

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When should I stop my run?

If something hurts during a run, especially close to your marathon date, you should stop. The hurting we’re referring to here isn’t discomfort from training or general fatigue (both of which are common). The kind of hurt we’re referring to is something out of the ordinary and painful, as opposed to just uncomfortable.

If you encounter pain, cancel the run. Finishing the last couple of kilometres of a workout isn’t worth hurting yourself. Remember the age-old saying, “This won’t make me, but it might break me.”

What cross-training method should I use?

If you’re feeling an injury coming on, the best thing you can do is take a couple of days off and cross-train. The cross-training method you choose will depend on what’s hurting.

For example, if you’ve got something going on in your foot, you need to be in the pool to ensure that there’s no impact. Between the bike, pool, elliptical and anti-gravity treadmill (if you have access), you should be able to maintain fitness while healing your small injury.

If you don’t have access to cross-training equipment, you’re better off taking some time completely off than training through an injury.


Do I need to see a medical professional?

If after several days of cross-training things aren’t improving, seek medical attention. Especially if your race day is fast-approaching, getting a second opinion on your injury is advised.