“Avoiding Injury and Divorce during Marathon Training”

They come in all shapes and sizes, some are long but others are short and stocky. Some even have lumps and bumps. Mine is long and curved from wear and overuse, and my wife cringes when I take it out in the sitting room but my foam roller is an indispensable part of my equipment. I’m training for the Berlin Marathon in September and Michelle (my wife) has already described herself as a “marathon widow”. In fairness to her, the average training week involves 7- 8 hours of running, 2-3 hours of gym work and foam rolling.  Not only does Michelle have to listen to moans and groans in our sitting room as I foam roll, she has to put up with the endless talk of run times, speeds, heart rate zones and chaffing.  But the effort and dedicated hours to training can all be lost so easily due to injury. The yearly incidence rates for injury in those training for marathons are reported to be as high as 90% (Fredericson & Misra, 2007). So why is the injury rate so high? How do I avoid injury?  Similar to my effort to avoid divorce, steering clear of injury is dependent on me finding a balance, listening to my body and compromising!!


noteI have realised that training for a marathon if you have a family is not an individual effort, everyone has to sacrifice.  Not only does the effort push the body to the edge of breakdown, it takes its toll on families and significant others. If my wife didn’t pick up the slack and give me the time to go training and racing, my marathon attempt wouldn’t be possible. The effort to avoid injury and the maintenance of a serene home life do share similarities.  In both, it is so important to be honest, as I found out on a “romantic” weekend away with Michelle.  Sneaking out of the hotel room at 7.30am on the Sunday morning in Cork to squeeze in a long run didn’t go down well, she didn’t even know I had my running gear! To the same extent I can’t fool my body if I’m sore, tired or carrying a niggle during training. I’ve found it pays to be truthful and either change the aims of the days training, slow it down or sacrifice it – in the hope of running in good health the next day.

It is easier for my body and my wife to work around routine and consistency. Both my body and Michelle are now accustomed to the fact that Sunday morning is the time for my long run, Tuesday is my tempo run and so on. I’ve learned that my wife and body mutually crave adequate periods of recovery between training sessions. It’s become clear that it’s much easier to be nice to my body and my wife during the training period for a marathon. This can be difficult because with 50-60 miles a week comes tiredness. I rarely want to foam roll, and I am contrary sometimes because training is arduous. As with arguments, it’s so important to recognise and address small niggles early, and don’t allow them to fester and cause missed training.

The two main injury risk factors during marathon training are increasing training load too quickly,  and continuing to train with a previous injury (Saragiotto et al., 2014).. The main injuries being achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis and patellofemoral syndrome (knee pain) (Lopes et al., 2012) tend to be ailments that develop over a period of time but athletes continue to run well beyond the initial signs of their presence. These are easily modifiable factors if you adopt some approaches discussed – be honest and consistent in training and compromise in running aims as needed. Ultimately it has become clear to me, that in order to successfully complete the Berlin marathon in the time I want, I need to keep my body and more importantly my wife happy!


Fredericson M & Misra AK. (2007). Epidemiology and aetiology of marathon running injuries. Sports Med 37, 437-439.


Lopes AD, Hespanhol Junior LC, Yeung SS & Costa LO. (2012). What are the main running-related musculoskeletal injuries? A Systematic Review. Sports Med 42, 891-905.


Saragiotto BT, Yamato TP, Hespanhol Junior LC, Rainbow MJ, Davis IS & Lopes AD. (2014). What are the main risk factors for running-related injuries? Sports Med 44, 1153-1163.


Posted by

I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

One thought on ““Avoiding Injury and Divorce during Marathon Training”

  1. Reblogged this on #AskAKW – Amphkingwest and commented:
    As we enter into the final stages of training it is worth taking a minute or two to reflect on the things that have enabled you to complete your training – family and your foam roller!

    Give thanks to your support network. You will need them again on Tuesday 27th October to get down the stairs again:)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.