How a qualified physio prepares for the London Marathon

The London Marathon is taking place on October 2 this year and many of our clients have been training hard for months. One of Spectrum’s lead physios, Rob Foyster, is among the pack of running enthusiasts preparing for the race. We sat down with him to find out about his personal history with running, how he has worked to manage some pre-existing injuries, and finally what he is doing to prepare for this year’s marathon (and how you can too!).

As a kid I honestly wasn’t really a runner. I always enjoyed being active, but I did more swimming back at home in Australia than running and actually didn’t really even enjoy cross country when I was forced to do it at school!

I started long distance running about 10 years ago, when I was in my early twenties and I got into it by accident. Some friends of mine were doing a trail half marathon and they somehow convinced me to join them at the last minute, despite the fact I hadn’t trained at all (oh, to be young and foolish again!). Despite the fact I injured one of my achilles tendons due to the lack of training I’d done, I really enjoyed myself and that was the first of many long distance runs I did — except since then I have trained for them properly. A few years ago I did the Paris Marathon and I’ve also done a number of fun runs, normally trail runs, but the 2022 London Marathon will only be my second full marathon.

Rob Foyster running a marathon

This March, not long after I had started training for the marathon, I tripped down some stairs and broke two bones in my foot, which meant I had to stay off it for awhile, take a break from my running training and undergo some physio treatment. I used the GameReady ice/compression unit to speed up the healing recovery, had some hands-on manipulations and mobilisations of the joints and since then I have been doing a strict rehab programme, particularly focussed on glute and calf strength exercises.

Annoyingly, on top of this injury, I also have a chronic back condition which I always manage through physio and exercise. This has added an extra layer to my return to running after my foot injury, as anytime I take breaks in training and then return, my back flares up a bit because it’s not used to the conditioning. I am getting a bit of hands on work for that as well as some dry needling, which is always really useful with my back as well.

When I began training back in March I was doing three runs a week: a long run on the weekends and at least one or two short runs during the week. When I was able to start running again, I began with just the two short runs per week to prevent my back from being affected. But gradually over time I built up my strength and now I’m back to one long and two short. As I get closer to the event I will start tapering off my training, which is pretty normal. Then about two weeks before I will start decreasing the length of the runs and a couple of days before the marathon I will completely rest. Until that time though, you’ve got to train yourself up with long runs so your legs get used to the kilometres.

Directly before the race, a big focus (as well as rest) is fueling and nutrition. You have to make sure you’ve had enough to eat so you can sustain the distance. Another tip in terms of nutrition — if you’re going to think about using any form of intra-run sustenance, such as gels, I would suggest you have tried them at least once before the day of the event.

Even if you don’t have any pre-existing conditions like I do, I would still recommend some physio prehab in the lead up to a marathon. Generally we focus on lower limb and core strength, but we always start with an assessment to see where someone may be slightly weak, so we can then give them a personalised programme to follow to build up their strength.

Good luck to Rob and all of Spectrum’s clients taking part in the 2022 London Marathon! If you want to chat about any last minute prehab needs in the lead up to the marathon, book a guaranteed appointment within 24 hours via our website. Or if you have a few quid to spare, please consider donating to Rob’s Just Giving page to raise money for children with cancer.

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