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HOW TO BUILD A SUCCESSFUL 12-WEEK MARATHON TRAINING PLAN

Updated: May 6


Dreaming of conquering the iconic London Marathon? Look no further! We unlock the secrets to crafting a winning 12-week London marathon training plan, including the best IT band stretches for runners and powerful tips to propel you towards race day success.



london marathon training runners

Secret #1: Embrace the Commitment and Stick to It


The 12-Week London Marathon Training Plan Structure


The first secret to any successful marathon training plan is committing to a structured 12-week timeline. Because it provides enough time to progressively increase mileage, intensity, and overall fitness while offering a manageable commitment.


In such a timeframe, you can build endurance with progression and prevent your body from passing its limits.


While proper planning is absolutely essential, Sticking to the plan is equally important. Consistency is the cornerstone of endurance training. So try to schedule your workouts setting realistic goals, and staying accountable to your training plan.


Treat your training schedule like an important appointment – prioritize it and reap the rewards!



Secret #2: The Power of Movement. Feeling All Stretched Out


Add both Dynamic & Static Stretches for runners into your 12 weeks training plan.


Dynamic stretching plays a crucial role in preparing the body for the rigours of marathon training. Because dynamic stretches for runners mimic running motions. So they can activate the muscles needed for your run!


In fact, we recommend including Dynamic Stretching at the beginning of your workouts. Dynamic stretches are active movements which help to warm up your joints safely. They activate and loosen up your muscles, improving flexibility and preventing injury. 


For your post-exercise cooldown routine, we recommend Static stretches (which are usually held for 10 to 30 seconds) or learn how to use a foam roller as it can be highly effective in easing pain and tension in the body. 


stretches for runners for 12 weeks marathon training plan

For optimal running form and injury prevention, focus on these key specific stretches for runners:

- adductor stretches to avoid groin pain

- calf and anterior tibialis stretching to avoid shin splints

- stretches for IT band and Quads due to their importance in running mechanics and injury prevention


To help you conquer those miles, plan the best training program and avoid common running injuries, we've included some simple stretches targeting the IT band and quads, notorious tight spots for distance runners.


STRETCHES FOR QUADRICEPS AND HIP FLEXORS


The quadriceps are essential muscles for running propulsion and knee stability. Dynamic stretches for runners such as high knees, butt kicks, and walking lunges can enhance flexibility in these crucial muscles.


Many people tend to have overly active quads & very tight hip flexors to compensate for a lack of glutes’ strength. Tension in this area may contribute to misalignment of the pelvis, lower back pain & hip pain after running & exercise. Tight quads can definitely be a culprit behind knee pain. You may want to try Recumbent biking as this is a fantastic option to address this type of problem.


Learn how to stretch the Quads with these simple video static & dynamic stretching examples. 


HOW TO STRETCH QUADS



HOW TO FOAM ROLL YOUR QUADS




STRETCHES FOR IT BAND


The IT band runs along the outside of the thigh and can become tight and inflamed with repetitive running motions. Incorporating dynamic stretches like leg swings, lunges with a twist, and hip circles can help loosen the IT band and improve hip mobility.


Here are some simple static & dynamic stretches examples for runners to learn how to stretch the IT Band.  They are very effective in preventing and easing IT Band syndrome and lower back & Hip pain.


STRETCHES FOR IT BAND



HOW TO FOAM ROLL THE IT BAND




Secret #3: The Magic Touch - Sports Massage


Massage is crucial to a 12-week London marathon training plan.


Think of Sports massage as a secret weapon in your marathon training arsenal. Sports massage can boost your recovery after a tough race or strenuous workout. It also enhances your performance and helps to achieve your sports targets injury-free. It provides immediate and lasting relief from acute/chronic pain, sciatica, repetitive strain and sports injuries. Furthermore, it can help to reduce stress and enhance relaxation before an important race.


Preparing your body for such events is, indeed, super hard. But you can alleviate the toll it takes by incorporating massage into your 12-week London marathon training plan.


Let’s dive into the why, how often, and when to receive massage during marathon training.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INCORPORATING SPORTS MASSAGE INTO YOUR 12-WEEKS TRAINING PLAN?


1) FASTER RECOVERY AND REDUCED EXISTING MUSCLE SORENESS

Massage therapy speeds up recovery. Because it increases oxygen-rich blood flow to reach the muscles, flushing out the metabolic waste of hard exercise and delivering fresh nutrients, thus healing that area. 


2) INJURY PREVENTION AND INCREASED RANGE OF MOTION

A well-trained sports massage therapist near you can identify vulnerable spots of the body that are not working at their best. She/he can tailor the treatment to help these weak muscles function more efficiently, thus preventing injuries to these body parts. Massage therapy also improves joint mobility and flexibility, which again can also prevent injury. 


3) MUSCLE TIGHTNESS PREVENTION

When you follow a 12 week marathon plan, you train harder than usual. It is very normal and expected that your muscles tighten up, which will reduce flexibility and range of motion. If you let your muscles become too stiff, this may interfere with your next training. Therefore movement will be more complex and may become compromised.


So, never wait for your muscles to get too tight! Schedule your treatments accordingly and incorporate them at the right times into your marathon training plan. 


men-with-leg-PAIN-sports-injury

4) FASCIA RELEASE

Massage therapy releases fascia, the fine sheath covering the muscular system. This release is crucial for proper body alignment. Imagine you unconsciously put most of your weight on your right leg when you train. It is easy to picture that repeating this movement for a prolonged time can lead to aches, pains, and even injuries as you are not able to distribute your body weight evenly. Releasing fascia can correct this and help you achieve your sports targets injury-free. 


5) FEEL-GOOD ENDORPHINS

A deep tissue massage can sometimes be quite uncomfortable, but I bet you will love the result. Sports Massage can make you feel naturally high. As a result, the body releases the so-called "feel-good" endorphins. Relaxing on a massage bed and ripping all its benefits by just lying down can be even more appreciated when you train hard like for a marathon.  Massage therapy increases the sense of well-being and can help you unwind before a competition.


Furthermore, by understanding both the benefits of sports massage and its contra-actions, you can make an informed decision about incorporating it into your 12-week plan for a safe and successful marathon journey.


HOW OFTEN SHALL I RECEIVE A MASSAGE BEFORE A MARATHON?


The frequency of sports massage sessions during marathon training can vary based on individual needs and training intensity.


Generally, we recommend a fortnightly or at least monthly massage at the beginning of the marathon training plan.


It is expected to experience tightness and discomfort after you resume training after a while or when trying a new sport. But all the pain and aches should subside within 48 hours. If you notice that you are developing muscle imbalances and keep experiencing specific pains while you train or in your daily life, we would probably recommend visiting your therapist every week. Because we can help you to realign the body and avoid that annoying feeling to transform into an injury which will stop your training.


When preparing for a sports event such as a marathon, it is very important to follow a well-thought-out regime. This can help you build strength and stamina week after week. Also, 

During the peak time of your 12 week marathon training plan, weekly massage is often essential. This is especially true if you spend the rest of your day sitting in front of a computer.  


WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO RECEIVE A MASSAGE DURING MARATHON TRAINING?


The timing of sports massage sessions during your London marathon training plan is crucial for maximizing their effectiveness. Therefore you will need to schedule your massages strategically as if they were workouts.


During a Deep tissue massage, we try to break up groups of muscles (the so-called knots), possibly causing tiny micro-tears in the muscle along the way. This normal function of massage allows more blood flow to reach the muscles, healing that area, but it can also lead to day-after tenderness.


Is it ok to work out before a deep tissue massage?

Exercising strenuously or doing a long run the day after a massage would be only counterproductive to the massage's benefits. Because you will simply contract your muscles more, introduce more waste products, and further dehydrate muscles. 


On the contrary, working out before the massage session is advisable, especially during your marathon training plan. The treatment can help you to get rid of the extra lactic acid from the training and recover much faster. We would advise you to receive treatment after a lighter workout, rather than a strenuous one. Your muscles will be less sore and a bit more relaxed, so your therapist could work slightly deeper. 


Should I get a massage after a marathon?

It is never recommended to get a really strong massage on the day of a marathon. If you run a long distance, there is likely to be lots of muscular damage and inflammation. If you are experiencing acute post-marathon soreness it is best to schedule your massage later in the week. 


Also, make sure you schedule your last pre-event treatment at least three days before the race. Doing so will help your body to flush out the byproducts that massage has released, get rid of any possible after-treatment soreness and get you in the best shape for your race. 


WHY CHOOSE A TO ZEN SPORTS MASSAGE?


A to Zen Therapies offers specialized sports massage near you designed specifically for athletes and active individuals. Our certified massage therapists understand the unique needs of runners. We tailor each session to target areas of tightness, fatigue, and stress related to marathon training. By choosing A to Zen Therapies, you can experience personalized care, expert techniques, and tangible benefits that support your marathon training journey.


In our massage clinic, we constantly treat runners, cyclists, triathletes and fitness lovers daily. As a result, we have become firm believers that a regular sports massage is even more essential if you fall into those categories. 


If you take your training seriously or are preparing for an event such as a marathon, a triathlon or a crazy Iron Man, you should consider getting a massage performed by one of our trained therapists. I guarantee you will appreciate the benefits in no time! 




Whether you are looking for a pre/post-event massage, to lose some tightness or need help with an injury, we will be happy to assist you and provide guidance to structure the best 12-week London marathon training plan



CONCLUSION


In conclusion, building a successful 12-week marathon training plan involves committing to the timeline, incorporating dynamic stretches for runners with a focus on key muscle groups, and including sports massage as a valuable recovery and performance enhancement tool.


By embracing these three secrets, you'll conquer the marathon and achieve your running goals with confidence!





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