After speaking to Marilyn Okoro about her preparations for London 2012 and her recovery from a series of injuries, we picked up some advice from her physio on training, core work and the importance of rest days.
With Marilyn suffering from a series of injuries since competing in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, her physio, Sally Evans, has tried to ensure the athlete can perform to her maximum capacity without suffering from any more setbacks. One of the key modifications to Marilyn's training schedule, Sally explains, has been the emphasis on strength and conditioning work in the lead up to competitive racing.
This, she feels, is an often overlooked aspect for recreational runners, with many preferring to take part in an extra run than spend 30 minutes on the exercise mat. The results of conditioning work, she explains, can be less tangible than going out for a run in the short-term, but will ultimately lead to an improvement in performance.
Sally feels runners often neglect one particular area: "Core training is essential for runners as it allows you to maintain form even when fatigue steps in. Glutes, especially, are often overlooked by runners and this is the area they should really be focusing on. The exercises don't necessarily need to be exhaustive and are often very simple to do, with squats and leg lifts of particular benefit."
When discussing Marilyn's weekly training routine, it became apparent that her schedule included many sports massages each week. When I suggested this may not be practical for most recreational runners, Sally recommended one piece of equipment: "Every runner needs to use a foam roller at least once a week. It works as a kind of self-massage and is an essential way to prevent injury."
With conditioning work aimed at increased performance and the foam roller vital as a preventative measure, the final piece of advice Sally offers is to rest well in between sessions: "Resting well is huge for everyone, from Olympic athletes to runners doing a 5k. You need to give yourself enough time to recover by getting enough sleep and making the most of doing nothing on your rest days." Sally continued: "Many runners are tempted to do a few miles when they should be resting, and this is often counterproductive. This way, you will be stronger for next time."