Martin Yelling's Q&A 4 March 2016

Q. I have problems with my knees and it seems every three weeks or so I lose a week due to knee pain. Any suggestions for constructive use of that week? At present I switch to cross training and core strength work.

A. Your priority should be to lose the knee pain! Find out what's causing it and address that. While you're working through the 'down' weeks it's a good idea to stay active. You could try and repeat the training in a different discipline, eg cycling, to maintain your fitness. Backing down and doing less on the other weeks could mean that you don't need the third week out?

Q. London will be my first marathon and my cartilage on both knees is injured. And unfortunately the problems and pain are getting stronger. Is it better to do only one long run during the week or to do short or medium runs two to three times a week?

A. Consider your marathon goals and start to develop a strategy now to help you deal with the day. This will most likely be one that involves minimising pain while running. With that in mind it could be walking to running. If so, then start doing this now in your training. Perhaps run short in the week a couple of times for a few miles and then run, and walk longer at the weekend.

Q. What's the best way to deal with restarting and upping long runs after a period of illness or injury during marathon training?

A. Slowly and carefully. You don't want to jump back in too quickly. Certainly for the first two runs just add a little bit at a time (one to three miles). Once you feel more confident about your recovery you can add more miles and up it a little further.

Q. Can you give any advice on getting the nutrition right on these long runs in practice for the Marathon? Also what sort of gels/bars etc would you advise trying out?

A. Do your own thing. Try things out on long runs that are practical and palatable. This might be gels or it could be other food that you like and can carry. Perhaps more important is getting your pre-long run nutrition right. Starting a run hydrated (not overly) and fuelled is critical. Take some fuel (food/energy gels/nuts/dried fruits) and see how you respond.

Q. I have lots of intolerances including caffeine. I have been using dextrose and glucose tablets, will it be enough?

A. If you've been training like that then you are putting yourself in a stronger position for Race Day as you will adapt to the level of exposure. Eat less - need less - eat more - need more! That said, try and find a fuel source you can take with you and that works.

Q. I’ve bought new trainers and ran in them a few times now. They feel good, but I’ve got blisters on my toes. I have a 20-mile run on Sunday, is there anything I can do with blisters?

A. I'd certainly look at why you got the blisters. What caused them? If it's the new trainers then consider a rethink! They really shouldn’t cause blisters. As a short term fix try covering them up to allow healing but also keep you running - try Compeed.

Q. What is the best thing to do to stop my calf muscles tightening up? I ran 10 miles on Monday but on Tuesday my calves were really tight and I could only do a short run on Wednesday and I’m running a half marathon this weekend.

A. You should work out why they are tightening in the first place. What is causing it? Then take that out! It could be shoes, surface, flexibility, a number of things. To manage it short term try changing your running surface, drop the intensity of your running, avoid hills and stretch/foam roll to ease it.

Q. How many times would you recommend wearing your race trainers on long training runs? I’m aiming for 3:30 at London and have worn them once on a 20-mile run.

A. Definitely wear them three or four times. Break them in properly so they feel like comfortable speed slippers!

Q. I'm struggling to fit long runs in around family and work. I’ve only just made it to 13 miles. Will I still be ready in time?

A. You bet you will! You've still got lots of time to build (another four weeks or so) and at a rate of one to two miles a week you'll be all over it!

Q. What's best for eating the night before the marathon and on the morning of it?

A. That depends on what you've tried and tested in training! Now is a good time to try different things, amounts and timings so that you feel fuelled and comfortable. You'll need some carbs the day before and possibly the morning of the race. It's personal preference where you get these from. Don't try anything new or different and there really is no need to overeat!