The 6 most common problems runners face and how to solve them

December 19 2018

Running has never been more popular and it’s easy to see why. It’s a brilliant way to stay healthy and is a great way to push yourself beyond what you thought was possible.

With the London marathon on the horizon, the new year is the perfect time to get stuck into your training routine. However, whether you’re a seasoned runner or are thinking of lacing up a pair of trainers for the first time, there are a number of common problems that you may need to overcome.

Don’t worry though, there is a solution to each of these problems.

To help you keep on track with your running goals and to get you marathon ready, we’ve put together a list of what you’ll be up against and how to best tackle any issues you’ll face while training or during the big day.

Motivation

Motivation can be the key to success or the final nail in the coffin for runners. When signing up for a marathon, or even just deciding to take running seriously, the excitement is enough to keep your interest piqued. Be careful though, the initial rush can fade and the tough runs may begin to demotivate you.

To combat this, begin by setting yourself smaller, more achievable goals and work your way higher. These personal targets need to be challenging enough that you feel a sense of achievement, but not so much that they are unrealistic.

A good way to ease yourself in is to increase your workload by 10% on a weekly basis. For example, if you run 30 miles in week 1, increase this to 33 miles in your next week.

Hitting the wall

This is the Achilles heel of every runner. You know the story —  you’re putting some amazing miles in and just when you’re hitting your stride, you hit the wall.

For marathons, avoiding the wall is crucial to make sure all your hard work and training doesn’t go to waste. To help you keep going until you reach the finish line, make use of water and energy gels. A good target is to try to make sure you’re taking power gel or drinking water every 20 minutes after your first hour of running, that way you can stay properly fueled up.

Tight Calf Muscles

It’s no secret that long-distance running can take its toll on your muscles, and your calves in particular. The last thing you need when you’re in the middle of a marathon is your legs cramping up.

To prepare your calves for the high-impact movements of running, make sure you stretch out your muscles regularly. A deep sports massage is a great way to relieve stiff muscles and can make all the difference when running for extended periods of time. You can even make use of a foam roller two or three times a week, which is a really simple way to keep you in tip-top condition.   

Losing Steam

It’s only natural to gradually slow down over the course of a marathon, but, you want to do everything you can to keep up your pace and not let it affect your time.

Plan your training routine around this by including some interval sessions in your routine, which will help your body maintain its momentum over long distances. There are a couple of training techniques you can use to help achieve this, one of which is to run half of your route at your normal pace and running the second half a few minutes quicker.

Another method is to begin running at a fast pace, continuing with the majority of your run at your normal pace and then finishing at a fast pace again.

Avoiding Illness

It can be really tough to stay motivated when you’re under the weather, but, there are a number of ways that you keep sickness at bay. Refuelling 20 minutes after your training is a great way to help your body recover. Foods rich in carbohydrate are key, however, believe it or not, chicken noodle soup is a fantastic immune booster to help you shake that pesky cold.

Cramps

Whether it’s a light jog or a long-distance run, there’s nothing worse than being struck with a cramp. Ensuring you plan your diet thoroughly is a great way to help avoid cramping up and to make sure your marathon training isn’t put to waste. Staying well hydrated is an important factor, as well as a potassium and calcium-rich diet. So make sure you stay topped up on milk and don’t forget the bananas!

If you’re thinking of taking part in the London Marathon and are looking for more advice on how to get race-ready, take a look at our guide on how to prepare.

Visit the England Athletics website for more help and advice on running and keeping fit.