Being reserved may reduce running injuries in multi-day marathons say researchers

Dr Katie Small And Dr Nicola Relph Monaco
18 Mar
L9 A9337
The sorts of injuries sustained by non-professional athletes running multiple marathons in the Lake District.

A sport rehabilitation expert from Cumbria travelled to Monaco last week to speak at an international conference on the prevention of injury and illness in sport. Opened by the Prince of Monaco, and organised by the International Olympic Committee, the triennial event attracts global leaders in the field and over a 1,000 delegates from all over the world.

Dr Katie Small from the University of Cumbria and Dr Nicola Relph from Edge Hill University, Ormskirk shared their findings on injuries sustained by non-professional athletes running multiple marathons in the Lake District. A key conclusion was that athletes could reduce injuries by running their first few marathons more slowly than subsequent ones.

Their research is a result of a two-year study of 27 non-professional athletes running the our Brathay 10in10. This 10 year old ultra-endurance event involves participants running the same marathon every day for 10 days, an anti-clockwise lap around England’s longest lake, Windermere.

Dr Small explained their interest in the study and said:

“Whilst more and more non-professional runners are taking part in multi-day marathons there is little research into injury rates and types of injuries. Runners also tell us that it’s hard to find any advice on what sort of training to do and how much of it to do. Our research hopes to answer some of these questions.

“It wasn’t a surprise to find the most common injuries were Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, inflammation of the Iliotibial Band (tight connective tissue on the outside of the thigh) and blisters. Using this information we worked with my university colleague, sports therapist Adam Smith, to devise a programme of exercises aimed at preventing them. In January we gave this year’s 10in10ers five top injury prevention exercises to follow. I hope we see fewer injuries when we meet up with them in May for the event” added Dr Small.

Dr Small and Dr Relph also discovered that marathon times were fastest during days one to three which coincided with the highest number of injuries. Runners completed marathons on days one to three on average 37 minutes faster than on days seven to 10. One runner who gradually improved on his marathon times during the 10 days sustained less injuries the authors reported. They recommend making a slow start, to minimise injuries.

The study also found that the majority of injuries were left-sided. Running authorities advise runners to run with the traffic, on the left hand side of the road, which means the constant road camber is having an impact. Dr Small and Dr Relph say they can’t advice runners to run against the traffic to counter this but they will look at exercises to mitigate this as part of a further round of research.

Alyson Knowles who looks after our 10in10 said:

“We’re delighted to have the support of high calibre injury prevention experts – Adam Smith, Dr Small and Dr Relph. It’s very important that we do all we can to make sure the runners stay fit and healthy as they tackle this epic mental and physical challenge. This research and the team of sport rehabilitation students from the University of Cumbria, who are onsite during the 10 days guided by Adam, makes all the difference. It means all the runners can be seen just before they start that day’s marathon and they get seen the moment they are back. The 10in10 is our flagship fundraiser, and in the last 10 years, the runners have helped to raise over £1million to fund our work with vulnerable youngsters.”

Click here for more information about the Brathay 10in10.