#370 The 3 key elements of marathon training and running injury recovery - DOC

#370 The 3 key elements of marathon training and running injury recovery

Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast we’re talking about the 3 key elements of marathon training and running injury recovery.

What is a running goal?  When you break down the goal of running a marathon, it really only has 3 key elements. 

  1. Distance. You want to run 26.2 miles. 
  1. Event. You choose a specific race, which begins in a certain place at a very specific time.
  1. Finish time. You expect to complete the 26.2 miles within the time you set for yourself. 

The process of setting such a goal and training for its successful completion builds character just as surely as it builds fitness. One of the best attributes of marathon training is its clarity. 

You are crystal clear on the distance, the starting point and the end point. 

All you have to do to compete the marathon successfully is break your training down into the daily and weekly stages of growth to establish the fitness required of your body on race day. 

You know what you will do on race day. You know what you have to do today to get ready.

If you work daily and diligently, you will succeed. 

To heal any running injury, you need to work daily and diligently to succeed.

Running injuries are difficult because they lack the clarity and simplicity of training for a marathon. But make no mistake. The process is just the same. 

All running injuries have a start time. What day was the starting line of your running injury?

Most injured runners think the starting line of a running injury is the day the first felt the pain. 

Some runners think the starting line of a running injury is the day she realize it was injured and stopped running. 

And still other runners think the starting line is the day they scheduled a telemedicine visit with a running injury expert or the day she walked into the doctor’s office. 

All of those are wrong. The starting line of any running injury recovery is the day you start rebuilding the injured tissue and the tissues that support it so you can run. 

Not the day you first felt pain…that was the day your body first signaled a problem.

Not the day you stop running…that was the day your fitness starts dwindling. 

Not the day you talked to a doctor…that was the day you first realized you needed guidance.

The day you start rebuilding through daily progressive running-recovery-specific action….that is the starting line of your running injury recovery.

As a runner who has been planning workouts and checking them off for years, it may surprise you to hear that I talk to runners every day who have been told they should start doing some specific thing, some little component of “treatment” recommended by a doctor, yet haven’t yet done it. If they haven’t started, they haven’t yet crossed the starting line. 

The finish line never gets one inch closer…until you cross the starting line. Every runner knows this to be true. 

I often wonder why runners call me and tell me all of the ideas, recommendations and proposed treatments that were handed to them by doctors, and running running buddies and sometimes even the Doc On The Run podcast, yet they haven’t yet tried them. They haven’t yet begun.

After many years of providing second opinions for injured runners who want to run, I think I know the answer. It boils down to clarity.

As just pointed out, most injured runners don’t really know where the starting line is. The doctor doesn’t you give a clear finish line. You never hear “you will run again without pain in 2 days, or 4 weeks, or even 3 months. 

Lack of clarity in the face of adversity adds to difficulty. How anxious would you be training for a race, and standing on the starting line of that race that would start at 7:00am on Saturday, with a finish line only disclosed as “somewhere between 20 miles and 40 miles down the road.” 

But that is basically what we as injured runners hear from doctors. “Eventually” running again.

Part of what may help you proceed more confidently is to gain more clarity. You can set a specific goals for running, even now while you are injured. Decide on a race, if you can find one that you feel you “should” be able to prepare for as you recover. Pick one that is realistic, but still feels like a goal.

You can start creating workouts that will strengthen the structures that will support your injured metatarsal, or achilles tendon, or plantar fascia. Write down the recommendations you have been given, but in all honestly just never tried. Commit to doing those, just this week. 

Make note of what hurts. Make note of what helps. Do what helps and stop doing what hurts. 

This approach is really at the core of the Runner’s Rapid Recovery Journal. After realizing so many runners who have the ability to heal, but aren’t running are just missing “clarity” as the ingredient being left out of the recipe. 

Choose a goal today. Write down your start time. And start working toward your finish line today.


Don’t really understand even where to begin then you need to get focused. The best way for any recovering runner to get focused is to work through the exercises I have created for you in the Runners Rapid Recovery Journal. Go to the show notes page for this episode and you can find a link there. Or you can also go to docontherun.com/journal where you can get an instant download version today. You need to figure out what your goal is, you need to figure out what mistakes you’re making and you need to figure out what you already know how to do that you’re not doing right now. The Runners Rapid Recovery Journal will help you figure that out. Go get it now and get unstuck! 

Go check it out!

Get the Runner’s Rapid Recovery Journal…


Runner’s Rapid Recovery Journal

Instant download PDF version

Step-by-Step guide to focusing only on what matters, taking all of your training experience and shifting it into recovery, achieving your goals as quickly as possible.

  • Take action and discover how you can speed up recovery, develop a plan and process for running as fast as possible.
  • Define your goal, so you can get into gear
  • Define what “healed” means to your running goals
  • How to use pain and progress as your guides
  • Daily tracking exercises every day for 30 days
  • 91 pages