Inspired to take on the London Marathon 2020? Here’s how to train without the pain

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Inspired to take on the London Marathon 2020? Here's how to train without the pain



If you’ve got the urge to exercise, here’s how to get all of the gain with none of the pain (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)We’ve heard what they say: ‘No pain, no gain’. Well, pounding the pavements doesn’t have to seem like suffering.
If longer days, lighter nights and the promise of balmier temperatures are tempting you to run, there’s more than one subtle way to make sure you’re better prepared to get back in the race.
Whether you’re an experienced marathon runner or a total newbie, it’s never going to be easy to take on 26 miles. So if next year’s London Marathon is already in your sights, make sure your body is well fuelled when you start, well oiled while it’s working and treated particularly well afterwards.
Soreness and muscle or joint inflammation after running is a natural side-effect of increased muscle activity. It’s the kind of restrictive pain that creeps up a day or two later, called delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. Sometimes that’s down to a new routine (maybe it’s further, faster or more fierce) and sometimes it’s just because you’re starting from square one.
Certain foods and nutrients – like yogurt and berries – can fuel your body with energy, meaning you don’t have to work so hard to get off the starting line. Others can improve your performance, reducing the strain you put on your joints and muscles during a run. Finally, when the hard work is done, knowing the right ways to manage muscle repair – like relaxing with a hot cup of tea or unwinding in a cool bath – is essential for getting you ready for your next run.
Acupuncture
One therapeutic approach to DOMS prevention is acupuncture. Pain has been shown to significantly decrease as a result of needle stimulation at tender points of the body (1).
Studies show it can be effective immediately after, or three days post-run, in reducing the pain of DOMS.
Not only that, but post-race acupuncture is also known to lower stress levels – once you get past the discomfort of the needles, that is (2).

For a therapeutic recovery from joint pain, try acupuncture (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)Compression clothing
From shorts to tights and socks, it’s not just about looking the part when it comes to compression gear for running: it can improve performance, aid recovery and reduce muscle micro-tearing.
The idea is that by compressing the top layer of skin and the muscle underneath we help increase the movement of oxygen within the blood and send it back up to the heart.
With better blood flow and improved circulation of oxygen, it increases energy production in the body, helping you run faster, for longer.
On top of that, by compressing blood vessels during and after a workout, it can reduce the swelling associated with stiff muscles and joints. By improving your recovery rate from a run, you’re ready to get back out there sooner.

If you’ve had the idea, make sure you’ve got the gear to go with it (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)Berries
Not only is a bowl of berries a sweet post-workout treat, but they have many properties that help repair the body after exercise.
Berries contain plant-based antioxidants called polyphenols, which can help reduce pain and inflammation (4). Within the skin of berries, there are also anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties and help increase blood flow.
Finally, they are a good source of carbohydrates, so a big bowl of berries can be good for building up energy before a run or replenishing supplies, post-training (5).

Berries can help the body repair itself (Provider: Getty Images)A cool bath
It may not sound so inviting but the healing properties of a cool water bath, compared to a hot and bubbly one, can be quite remarkable.
Running causes eccentric muscle contractions, which trigger a heightened inflammatory response causing the tissues to expand (6). To reduce the associated pain and discomfort, add ice to the affected areas.
If bathing in cooler water isn’t your bag, swimming can have a similar effect.

Add a little salt to hot bath and let the recovery begin (Picture: Getty Images)Low-fat yogurt
Compared to Greek yogurt, low-fat yogurt contains a healthy supply of calcium and vitamin D for regular running.
Runners’ diets are typically low in calcium and vitamin D but it’s important to remember that both of these improve bone density, reducing the likelihood of painful stress fractures common in runners (7).
Calcium is also a good source of protein, which is important for muscle build and recovery.

Low-fat yogurt is important for building strong muscles (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)

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