Marathon Mastery Series: What to do when injury strikes

Injury happens to even the most seasoned of marathon runners, but it doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sofa stewing and panicking about your diminishing fitness and not being able to reach your marathon goal…

The reality is that being injured very rarely means you should totally rest*. Ninety nine percent of the time, it means NOT running but keeping up your running fitness and strength to ensure that once you’ve recovered, you can get back on track to your goal without losing your hard run gains. All you need to do is find the right run replacement (check with your physiotherapist FIRST) and perform it correctly to you stay marathon fit and prevent you from slumping into the doldrums.

Don’t fear weights, they are your friend

Hit the pedals

If you can’t run, spinning or using a turbo trainer is a great way to keep up your running fitness and marathon training. But the cycling must be intense enough to create the same physiological effects as running, or as close to this as possible. Which doesn’t mean cycling serenely to the shops or going on a casual ride.

Emily Proto, a Sussex runner and massage therapist, who recently came third at the Brighton Half marathon explains what she did when she broke her fibula.

‘I broke my fibula during the Brighton Marathon 2015 and had to pull out at the 10k point which was devastating,’ she explains. ‘I’d worked so hard in my marathon training,  I didn’t want to lose my fitness and so I started using a stationary bike with my focus being on keeping my heart rate as high on the bike sessions as i do when I run.

‘I did things like five minutes easy, 10 x 1 minute really hard, with 1 minute easy rest between and a final five minute warm down. It took 30 minutes and I added strength training. I had eight weeks off and it took me only five weeks to get back to fitness afterwards.’

If you don’t have your own turbo at home, try spinning at your local gym or the excellent Sufferfest training available at David Lloyd gyms or MyRide at Virgin gyms or Freedom Leisure.


Cycling is a great way of keeping run fit – if you ride smart. This is me hiding at the back of the shot after the 312 Majorca...that’s the former Tour de France winner, Miguel Induráin


Leap In

So many runners opt to swim when they’re injured, which is a great way to keep the body mobile and stretched. BUT to make it as specific to run fitness, you need to get your heart rate up and that means swim interval sets, just like you do with your running pace work. Try warming up for 100 metres, then do 50 metres at 8/10 effort, 50 metres recovery, x 10. Warm down. If you find swimming boring, this will help to keep it interesting and work your body in a way that’s more consistent with running. Your alternative is to do resistance running in the pool with a buoyancy belt on.

You don’t have to get a wetsuit and all the gear, but you do need to be smart about your training

Row, row, row the boat

Not gently down the stream. Yes, you guessed it, rowing is a fantastic way of keeping up your run fitness and involves all the major muscles of the body (in fact, it could even improve your running arm strength!) but be cautious. As with all of these suggestions, seek the advice of your physiotherapist, BEFORE you decide on which cross training to do. If you have a calf or foot injury, rowing will put a similar pressure through the foot with flexion and extension as you push to row. If it’s OK to row, then this is one al over, heart rate soaring workout. There’s some great suggestions here to keep it interesting.

Ring the bell

Kettle bells are a fantastic way of keeping your strength and cardiovascular fitness for running, particularly transferable physiologically to pace and tempo work. Originally invented in Russia, these metal balls with a handle are swung, with the drive coming from the hips and bottom which helps to build stability and prevent injury in the first place. As the bells swings through the air, your core has to kick in to stabilise the body in the swing trajectory. So, that’s one tick for strength, while all the muscular effort required to drive the correct weighted kettle bell raises your heart rate hugely, tick number two.

If done correctly, with a weight that challenges the body, kettle bells are a fantastic way of keeping up your fitness and don’t take long – a TABATA session of eight rounds of 20 seconds, 10 seconds rest works wonders. We would advise you to get correct tuition in kettle bell swinging before picking it up yourself.



Congratulations to our Runuary Competition winners

During our 2018 Girls Run the World® Runuary Challenge, over 500 women across the globe participated in running a tiny bit every day of January to help boost their own health, fitness and well being and to help inspire and encourage others. We also ran several competitions that were only open to those who registered for the event. Here are the winners – congratulations girls!

There were so many brilliant entries to our prize to win a running jacket and run leggings with Sundried. We asked people to share why they loved running but we thought the best was from Helen Monk, whose instragram picture and reason why she loved running summed it up. Congratulations Helen (or Molly as she is on her IG!)



And we are awarding Fi Thomson a three month subscription to The Protein Ball Co.  for her posts which best sum up the ethos of support, inspiration and motivation through GRTW community, #bettertogether. And quite frankly, because her posts were so damn funny! (And yes, they really did create a Strava route in the shape of boobs!)

Five Simple Tips for Staying Calm on Race Day

Do you find all your best laid race plans go to pot because you panic on race day? Here’s our guide about how to stay calm from the night before the race right the way to the finish line…



  • Go out
    You may feel like you want to be alone the day before your race, but socialising could work as a distraction, helping you relax and disengage from the pre-race nerves. An early dinner or film with friends or family could be the perfect solution.
  • Write your own confidence story, recommends sports psychologist, Josephine Perry, Performance in Mind.  Split a piece of paper into two columns, write your goal for the race on the top left, and your mantra on the right. At the bottom left, write your strengths, which you can take from all the training runs that went really well, while on the righthand side, write down three sessions that you did in training where you felt you could nail your goal. ‘It works to remind you of all the training that you’ve done where you have achieved your goals and will help to calm your anxiety by boosting your confidence,’ she explains. 
  • Get prepared the night before  It sounds obvious, and it is. But how many times have your found yourself running around the morning of a race looking for your socks or your safety pins? ‘Lay out your kit, pin on your race number, fasten your chip, prepare your breakfast, plan your journey,’ advises GRTW running coach, Tara Shanahan. ‘Then try and relax, listen to some soothing music, read a book, anything to distract you from thinking about the race.’
  • Take a deep breath – Anxiety tenses your muscles and shortens your breathing, limiting the amount of oxygen available for your brain to think clearly. ‘Find a quiet place and focus on your plan, your mantras, all the stuff that has got you through to this day,’ advises GRTW running coach, Tara Shanahan. ‘Remember, it’s just running, something that you’re doing because you love it; think of the race as the ultimate opportunity, time to do all the things that you’ve done so well in the lead up.’
  • Have a mantra – smile with the miles  ‘In every Ironman I’ve ever done, I’ve wanted to quit,’ says Ironman champion, Chrissie Wellington. ‘That little voice in one ear that says, ‘pull to the side, it’s not going to be your day,’ but I’ve pushed through repeating my mantra, Never Ever Give Up and smile. You’re only as powerful as your mind.’

GRTW Podcast; ‘I ran the Marathon Des Sables to prove everyone wrong’

Devinder Bains, now 39, was a magazine features editor on a busy weekly magazine, more used to press launches and cocktail bars than running through the Sahara Desert without showering for a week. But that didn’t stop her taking on the Marathon Des Sables, an arduous six day multi-stage race of over 155 miles on just 12 weeks training that has a tiny 14% female entry level.

You can listen to how Hot Yoga and Welsh mountains helped Devinder train,and how she managed to eat the 5000 required calories despite not eating meat. http://Listen to Devinder’s podcast here

After the MDS, Devinder went on to become the editor of Grazia, Dubai before setting up a personal training company, FitSquadDxB and a content agency, The Content Collective



Since then, Devinder went on to become the editor of Grazia, Dubai and now runs her own successful personal training company, FitSquadDXB and content agency, The Content Collective.


Fancy entering the Marathon Des Sables? They now have one in the Sahara, Peru and a half distance in Fueterventura. For more details click here.