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I am shortly to begin training to run in my first marathon. Speaking with several other people regarding their similar experiences I am now quite concerned that I could end up doing some permanent damage to my knee during the training for and then running the race.

I lead a fairly active lifestyle: running short distances (10k), playing football (soccer) and the odd game of basketball. Not to mention I have been working out in the gym for the last 4 months doing strength and conditioning work in preparation for the training.

I don't have a history of bad knees... but then neither did my friends and they have still managed to hurt themselves.

How can I do my best to avoid such problems?

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Well you shouldn't be worried about just your knee, as any of your joints is at risk of an overuse injury when you drastically change your training program. –  Ivo Flipse Apr 27 '11 at 11:18
    
Agreed, there are quite a few concerns. The knee is quite prominent simply because I know people who will never run 10k again after they busted a knee running a marathon. –  Gavin Osborn Apr 27 '11 at 12:32
    
True, a jumpers knee is the most common running injury, so its good to be wary. I'd suggest you have a look at my answer on this question because it talks about the risk factors. Perhaps you can elaborate your question based on how you think these apply to you. –  Ivo Flipse Apr 27 '11 at 13:20

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Knee pain while running is commonly caused by 4 main issues. They are:

  1. Weak Hips
  2. Weak Thighs (Quads)
  3. Tight Hamstrings
  4. Tight IT Band

By strengthening the hips and thighs and improving flexibility in the hamstrings and IT Band, the pain should lessen and/or go away entirely.

Based off those ideas, here is a good routine to Reduce Knee Pain from Running.

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The best way to get injured with marathon training is to not have a solid running base.

Slowly increase your mileage by increasing duration / distance NOT intensity. Your training should mirror the race your planning to run.

Any training plan worth its salt will give you a recommend base. Hal Higdon's novice plan recommends:

but ideally before starting a marathon program, you should have been running about a year. You should be able to comfortably run distances between 3 and 6 miles. You should be training 3-5 days a week, averaging 15-25 miles a week. You should have run an occasional 5-K or 10-K race. It is possible to run a marathon with less of a training base (particularly if you come from another sport), but the higher your fitness level, the easier this 18-week program will be.

A good book is Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning (don't let the title scare you). It has a lot of the background info on how the plans were constructed, etc...

In short: Run lots, have a good base, have proper shoes, and take care of your body.

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You should find a local organization that has a marathon training class. It does many things for you: you get weekly feedback on how to improve, you will be motivated to do all the training and not take shortcuts, and you will set reasonable goals for yourself on how fast and how far you can run.

Also IMHO you knees and back are balanced by core ("Stomach") when running. If you have too much weight there (like me) or don't do any sit-ups (the thin guys) you pay for it in other areas.

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