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  • Ollie McCarthy

I got injured during my marathon training- what now?

So you pick up an injury. Maybe its a niggle that has been gradually getting worse over time.

Or maybe it is an acute event which is now causing a problem.

“What will I do?”

“All my training is ruined.”

“I’m never going to be able to do this event.”

A million different questions and thoughts bouncing around your head.

Dripped in dread and fear for the worst.

Pause. Breathe. Take a moment.

Upon injury (or potential injury) you are normally the most emotional. Take a minute to steady the boat before moving forwards.

Unfortunately if you are running a marathon or doing anything which pushes your body into unchartered territory, you risk injury.

It is part of the process.

Injury is much like a feedback loop from your body which says “I can’t handle any more.”

So if you are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. You are teetering on the edge of going too far constantly.

Professional athletes will constantly have this struggle. They just have a better understanding of where the line is and what is too much. Unlike most of us they have more time to dedicate to understanding this.

For most normal humans we are just trying to balance getting the most out of our training while also working, living and having some form of a social life.

So what happens when we do get injured.

Pause then act.

Our immediate worries are often worse than the reality.

A “serious” injury can sometimes get much better in the days following with some protective measures put in place (ice, rest, anti inflammatory.)

Take a few days to see how the injury is before you start pulling out of races and booking to see specialists in London. Often things are not as bad as they first seem.

If things are still bad in the 2-3 days after then seek out a specialist. Physios and osteopaths would be my go to. Your local GP will have limited understanding of injuries in a sporting context.


If you are given rehab, do it. If you don’t then you are essentially putting a barrier in the way of your recovery. Maybe even slowing it down.

Time will be a natural healer, however if you aren’t looking at solutions for why you got injured in the first place, there is a chance you will get injured in a very similar way again.


Often there are warning signs for an injury.

Stiffness in a muscle. A niggle that is gradually getting worse. Maybe even pain.

Think about the context in which you picked up the injury.

Had you changed an element of your training recently (more volume etc.)

Where you less rested/ more stressed than usual.

Did you have less rest/recovery leading into the injury.

Did you change something last minute (trail run instead of the road.)

All these things can impact your potential injury risk and it may have just been one factor or the perfect storm of several.

Take time to think about circumstances leading into the injury and learn from any mistakes you may have made.

Can you pinpoint something which you did which may have caused the injury or be a contributing factor?

As I said before, there is a fine line to tread between pushing yourself further and picking up an injury. Repeat the same thing again and you may get the same result.


It may not seem it at the time but see this as an opportunity for growth.

I know this may be difficult but you have two choices of how to react to this challenge.

1- you sit in a pit of self pity and think the worst. Allowing your mind to spiral about how bad the situation is, how helpless you are and compounding the problem.

2- you realise it's a shit situation and have a moment of feeling down. You realise you can't do anything about it and get on with it.

How can you move forwards and learn from this experience making you stronger than before?

If everything went smoothly would you get as much out of it?

With struggle comes growth.

And it is my guess you entered this process of training because you wanted to achieve something or push yourself to do something you may not have previously thought possible.

Lean into the discomfort of this challenge and I have no doubt you will come out stronger than before.

“Where challenge and struggle present themselves, opportunity is around the corner.”

About the Author:

Hi my name is Ollie McCarthy and I am a Running Coach and Personal Trainer in Tunbridge Wells. I help people to build fit, robust and capable bodies that look good but also perform well. This is done through a combination of running, mobility, strength and conditioning work.

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