How to avoid injury when training for the Sydney Marathon

Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner or a first-timer, embarking on the Sydney marathon is an exciting, daunting and admirable adventure. In this blog post, you will learn about how to avoid common injuries from long-distance running as well as how to spot warning signs that something is wrong. 

Top tips for avoiding injury during marathon training 

  • Always warm up and cool down properly. You can follow our helpful hints on warm-ups and warm-downs in our previous blog post. 
  • You should start at a slower pace when running and gradually build up your running intensity and distance over time. 
  • Make sure you stay hydrated during your run. 
  • Avoid doing too much, too early in your training. You should attempt a graduated training program that includes periods of 24-48 hours of rest between running sessions. 
  • Mix-up your runs with other forms of exercise, such as strengthening and core-focused exercises (Pilates and Yoga), along with swimming and cross-training. 

Signs that something is not quite right 

Constant pain: If you’re experiencing constant and unrelenting pain, then it’s time to seek professional advice from a physiotherapist. 

Body stiffness: If you have ever woken up the day after a run and found yourself feeling as stiff as a board, this is a sign you’re not adequately warming up or warming down. This can be improved with proper warm-ups and warm-downs. 

Excessive fatigue: This may be a sign you don’t have enough recovery time between training sessions. An exercise physiologist, personal trainer or physiotherapist will be able to advise you on the optimum timings and intensity that is right for you. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Personal Safety

Noise cancellation headphones that block out all noise can be hazardous for personal safety. So if you do enjoy running with headphones on, stay extra alert on the roads.

If you run during the night time, you should stick to well-lit paths. It’s also a good idea to run with a friend and also to wear high-vis clothing, to make sure you are visible to cars, bikes and other people. 

When running during the heat of the summer, it’s a good idea to wear a hat and sunscreen to protect against sun damage.

Common marathon training injuries 

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned runner, you may be familiar with the saying – Make Pain Your Friend. It’s the opposite in reality though, you don’t need to suffer to be a runner. 

Knee injuries 

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS): Pain right behind the kneecap is common for long-distance runners. It’s also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome or “runner’s knee”. As you take a leap forward and impact with the ground, you experience pain. 

Meniscus injuries: The menisci are two wedge-shaped cartilage pads that act as shock-absorbers for the knees. Strong quadricep muscles help absorb the forces around the knee when you strike the ground, thus decreasing the forces running places through the joint. Good core and gluteal muscle strength also help with lower limb control when running and thereby also assisting in reducing the forces through the joint.

You can help prevent meniscal injuries by wearing appropriate footwear, cross-training and strength training.  Also, adequate hydration and dietary considerations need to come into play. If you need advice, contact the friendly team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy.

Lateral hip pain 

When you feel a dull ache on the outside of your hip, either during a run or afterwards, there may be a couple of likely causes. 

Iliotibial band syndrome: This is the thick fascial band that runs down the outside of the thigh. If you’re wearing old worn shoes, running on a slope,  or have weak buttock muscles (hip abductor muscles), this may irritate your iliotibial band and cause injury. 

Bursitis: This is a build-up of inflammation , caused by friction in the fluid filled sacs between your tendons and bones. Pain may appear during or after a run. For a personalised assessment of your condition, you should see a physiotherapist. Although in the meantime you should ease back on your training and apply ice to the area, following a run. 


Foot injuries 

Plantar Fasciitis: The plantar fascia is the thick connective tissue which supports the arch on the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis causes pain in the bottom of the heel.  This is caused by overuse, poor biomechanics, improper running shoes or increasing training intensity too quickly. Your physiotherapist will be able to advise you regarding appropriate treatment, possible orthotic support, or refer you to a podiatrist. 

Stress Fracture: A stress fracture is a crack in the bone caused by repetitive stress or force, often from overuse. A stress-fracture may be difficult to diagnose, even with an X-ray. Stress fractures will require time off from running. At least for six weeks in order to recover. The good news is, once it’s healed, the pain generally won’t return.  It is important to address the cause of the stress fracture, to prevent this injury from occurring again.

The friendly and experienced team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will enable you to improve the mechanics of your body. We will also provide you with a tailored strengthening program and give you running advice which will help you to confidently hit your strides for the Sydney Marathon.


Strengthening exercises are key 

A recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that runners with patellofemoral pain syndrome had significant improvements to their pain and knee function, after they employed an eight week hip and core strengthening program.

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to pinpoint any issues with your training and help with pain and preventing and treating injuries along the way.

We can provide a range of solutions which may include taping, massage, strengthening exercises and stretching work. Remember that whether you end up coming first or last on the day of the marathon – you’re still a champion and deserve a round of applause! 

If you would like to book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists, please make an online booking or give us a call on 02 9314 3888.


ESSA: Exercise and Sports Science Australia  (2019) Running the Distance

WebMD (2019) Common Running Injuries Prevention and Treatment 

Sports Medicine Australia (2019) Running Fact Sheet University of Wisconsin (2010) A Proximal Strengthening Program Improves Pain, Function, and Biomechanics in Women With Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Dr Earl, Jennifer et. al. 

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