New research carried out at Barts and University College London has shown that training for and completing a marathon can cut four years off an individual’s vascular age – and that those who are less fit benefit the most.
The researchers tested 138 people due to take part in this year’s London Marathon. Over a period of six months their arteries gained elasticity, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Their blood pressure fell with the same effectiveness as if they were taking medication for the condition.
Local health experts at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre welcome the findings of the research, but warn that novice marathon runners in particular need to be properly prepared before they take on their first big race.
Whether it is a fun run or full marathon, or if it is your first time or you are an experienced runner, preparation is key. Physiotherapy experts from Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre give 6 top tips for running safely and successfully.
1. Look at your feet
Bin the old pair of trainers. You need to look after your feet. Running shoes should be light and supportive, and always wear proper running socks. If your shoes are new, break them in before you start serious training. Good footwear is the best foundation for distance running.
2. Warm up
Before you head off full of enthusiasm, make sure your muscles and joints are ready for action. Build up your strength gradually before running any distance, and always start a run with a thorough warm up session – that way you are less likely to injure yourself.
3. Be prepared
If you’re new to running, or if it has been some time since your last big race, give yourself plenty of preparation time and take things slowly to start off with. Remember, the big race itself is the pinnacle, so try not to peak too soon or do something that results in injury. Start with short distances and build up to the length of the ultimate race, building up your speed over time. So, if you’re planning to run a full marathon, prepare yourself by running 10Ks, half marathons and follow a plan.
4. Remember to drink
Always take on plenty of fluids when you are running. A mixture of water and energy/electrolyte type drinks are recommended. There a multitude to choose from and you should use whatever suits you best.
5. If you’re injured
Stop – do not try to push yourself. Apply standard first aid treatment for small injuries. For the more serious injury call the emergency services. To assist with your recovery seek treatment from a registered physiotherapist and follow their advice – it is easy to undo their good work by returning to training too soon.
6. During and after the race
Never try or wear anything new on race day. Wear your usual running clothes and run at the running pace you have practised in training. Remember to do some cool down exercises, and congratulate yourself on a great achievement!