Kinetics Physio Tips to get you through the 2020 Rotorua Marathon! 

In the build up to the 2020 Rotorua Marathon, David Cooper and the Kinetics Physiotherapy team are going to provide a few tips and tricks for negotiating both the training and race day itself. We aim to keep it simple with practical advice that is appropriate for athletes of all levels. 

Check out the great tips and advice below!

At this point in a training programme your base level of fitness should be reasonably high and you will be looking at honing those long weekend runs and improving the shorter, faster runs during the week. Over the years having worked with hundreds of athletes preparing for distance running events, here are a few of the most common mistakes worth avoiding.

1. Avoid changing training dramatically. Often with a sound base fitness there is temptation to start diverting off your training plan. The body and specifically the muscle/tendon units that help propel you forwards are creatures of habit. The base fitness now means that you are conditioned to this type of exercise. Avoid that random bootcamp, step-class or crossfit session, especially if you haven’t been doing those activities for some time. Changing tack right before a marathon commonly leads to injury.

2. Avoid footwear changes. Avoid changing footwear this close to the big day. It takes time to adapt to new footwear, even if it’s the same model. If you are in desperate need of a new pair of shoes, alternate them with your older pair so that it isn’t as big or sudden a change.

3. Never underestimate recovery. A good recovery day is worth its weight in gold at this point in the training programme. Whether it is a good massage, a relaxing swim or spa, a yoga session or just having a day resting around the home. The longer runs can take their toll so treat your body a bit as you prepare for the start line.

The marathon is not far away now and the goal that you have been aiming for now relies even more on your focus, attention and diligence. Keep on, keeping on!

In recent years medical research has shifted towards identifying and testing exercises that reduce the risk or even prevent injury. This has helped form guidelines for improved warm-up protocols that in a lot of sports have had significant effects on injury rates. Given the repetitive nature of running as a sport, accurate movement patterns are key to reducing your risk of injury. Here are three simple exercises worth doing to help reduce your risk of injury as you get closer to the start line at Rotorua.

Controlled movement and accuracy are more important than load. Gaining good control of these few movements will significantly reduce your risk of lower limb injury. Remember – stay focused and committed over the coming month as you get ready for the big day!


Tendon injuries form some of the more common injuries that runners sustain including the Achilles, patellar tendon and the plantarfascia (which acts in a similar manner to a tendon). Tendon injuries can be stubborn, and they can completely unravel the best of build ups for a major event. Here are a couple of key management tips.

1. Avoid complete rest. Unless the injury has come about from an acute injury (partial or complete tear), pain that has just come on slowly over time tends to be better managed with relative rest. Complete rest will rarely if ever resolve the issue because the problem is in the tendon’s ability to tolerate load.

2. Offload then slowly build back up. Give the tendon a break from the aggravating load (running) but continue to bike or swim as a form of cross-training. Most of the science tells us that tendon’s only have so much capacity to adapt to changes in load (think mileage, intensity, frequency of your runs). When ready to build back into running the rule of thumb is never increase by more than 15% per week (mileage,intensity and frequency).

3. Establish the cause. The majority of tendon conditions that have developed over time can be attributed to a rapid change in load, changes in footwear or poor biomechanics. It is worth consulting with a physio with an interest in running so they can look for these causes and help prevent the problem from returning.

4. Scans and other diagnostic measures don’t often change management. Leading tendon guru’s worldwide agree that ultrasound scans or even an MRI of a tendon often doesn’t change the treatment protocol. Trust the judgement of your physio and follow what we know is a tried and tested rehab process.

Finally, if you have an Achilles problem then you have something in common with one of the leading researchers in the field of tendon injuries. Mr Hakan Alfredson, an orthopaedic surgeon after whom Achilles rehab protocols were named was a runner who himself struggled with his Achilles. By performing a progressive strength programme he resolved his issue and was able to avoid surgery.



No doubt many a running-obsessed individual ripped through Christmas wrapping paper to find the latest new running watch to use as a training tool for an event like the Rotorua Marathon. Technology has advanced at an exponential rate and even the most basic GPS running watch can be a really useful training tool. Here are a few tips for how to get the most out of your new toy!

If you are new to running then you can now get a better idea of what pace you will need to run at in order to achieve your goal at Rotorua. Remember it is unlikely that you will maintain the same pace for the whole event. Hilly sections will be slower, areas where there is crowd support may be quicker! Look at the average pace and go out for a few of your longer runs at that pace to get a sense of what it feels like.

A slower, longer aerobic run should be at a relatively controlled pace and your heart rate should reflect that. Ideally your heart rate should be around 70-85% of your maximum heart rate which is estimated as 220 minus your age. Ie if you are 40yrs old, your estimated max heart rate is 180 beats per minute. Aerobic state running therefore is heart rate no higher than 153bpm. As a guide for this run you still should be able to speak in full sentences to your training partner.

Acute vs chronic load
A lot of the newer watches have an integrated ‘Load’ monitoring feature. This allows you to see if your training has spiked by more than 15% intensity/duration/frequency compared to the previous 4 weeks. Acute spikes in training like this are associated with a greater risk of injury. As a physio this concept is a regular topic of discussion with runners who present to my office with an injury. On Strava this is termed Fitness/Freshness, with Polar watches it is called PolarFlow and with Suunto watches it is on TrainingInsights.

Remember, although technology is packed with features - your new watch isn’t going to run the race for you. Listen to your body and use your new techy toy as a guide and aid only...not a crutch!
By now you have probably started developing a nice routine of a certain number of runs or distance covered (mileage) per week. As you continue building towards the marathon, you have to recognize the importance of different sessions. When travelling with and seeing elite athletes train around the world, what struck me is how easy some of their sessions were. It is quite common to get drawn into the view that every run has to be at a gut-busting pace. This is simply not the case and it would almost always lead to injury.

Hard sessions that you may be including in your training programme now could be hill runs, interval sessions or even faster repetitions on a track. In order to truly benefit from these sessions it is important that the corresponding easy sessions are really easy. Even elite athletes will go out for a long aerobic run at little more than a slow jog.

The other reason for this training pattern is that the loading pattern week to week usually remains consistent. Research has now demonstrated that if you have too much variation of hard to easy weeks, the imbalance of load results in a 7-fold increased risk of soft tissue injury. Even when talking with elite athletes this can often be the blame for that niggly Achilles, painful plantarfascia or IT-band issue.

So remember – put your effort into a hard, intense and quality session but use the easy sessions to recover fully. The event on the day will be so much more enjoyable if you manage to get to the start line injury free!

Building towards a marathon can be a daunting task and small injuries can crop up along the way. Almost weekly there is a client coming into our clinic a week before an event with a niggle that they have been carrying for weeks. The earlier you are able to seek an expert opinion, the easier it is to manage the injury with your training plan.

Here are a couple of useful tips for early stage injury management:

1. Don’t just “wait and see”!
Although for many injuries you may have the luxury of biding your time, with an event coming up it is important to be more proactive to ensure a speedier recovery.

2. 24 hour window
How you manage an acute injury in the first 24 hours has a big affect on your whole recovery. Rest, ice, compression, elevation and finally....diagnosis! These few tricks are often what separate you from the All Black or Olympic athletes who have managed their injuries perfectly from the second it occurs.

3. Patience = long term success
A good sports physiotherapist will be able to give you options for cross-training while you recovery. Complete rest is rarely required. Be patient in the early phase of injury management. A bit of crosstraining now may make all the difference and get you on the start line of the marathon in good nick.

Finally – if you are the really proactive type then many clinics such as Kinetics offer injury prevention screening and advice. It is obviously far better to prevent an injury than scramble to treat on that has cropped up. Going through a movement analysis and looking at a few preventative exercises can help ensure your training remains injury-free!

Training load
Load is a tricky term but can loosely be explained as the amount of energy expended during any given activity. As such it represents the duration (time), mileage (km’s), effort (difficulty) of each and every run or training session. Current scientific research has found that the total amount of load in training isn’t the only contributing factor to overuse injuries. Changes in load are the biggest factor, with an increase (or decrease followed by an increase) of greater than 15% increasing your risk of injury 7-fold. David will be discussing these more in upcoming blogs.

There are endless studies that try to break down the ideal biomechanics for a distance runner. Although complex, there are a few key fundamental movements that we know can considerably reduce your risk of injury. The tracking of your knee is vital, with inward knee tracking contributing to almost all lower limb overuse injuries. Stand in front of a mirror and do a small squat while standing on one leg. If your knee isn’t staying straight in line with your second toe – you have some work to do!

Many of the most common and basic injuries come from footwear that is either the wrong fit or hasn’t been broken in. Allow plenty of time to get used to a pair of shoes and although more expensive initially, getting two pairs and alternating them is good practise. Unless you are a seasoned racer it is advised to wear the same shoes on race day - remember, change as little as you can on the day!

We all know that fitting marathon training in around a busy lifestyle that often includes family, friends and work is hard. When you are tired, your risk of injury increases – specifically overuse injuries as your biomechanics are often at their worst when tired. Try to make a concerted effort to get to bed a bit earlier, especially before those longer runs.

Kinetics is excited to be an official partner of one of the oldest marathons in New Zealand, the Rotorua Marathon. Kinetics is a musculoskeletal physiotherapy clinic based on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula – one of New Zealand’s most picturesque running locations on offer. Our clinic prides itself on catering to everyone “from Olympian to Office worker”. Kinetics has three divisions: Physiotherapy, Surgical Rehabilitation and a Youth & Kids division. Our clinicians are at the forefront of research and development of injury prevention protocols and evidence based rehabilitation.

David Cooper is the Principal and owner of Kinetics and has been a touring physiotherapist with Athletics New Zealand for a number of years. Himself a nationally ranked distance runner; David has also worked alongside the NZ Breakers, Triathlon NZ, Triathlon USA and Triathlon Canada. Other members of the physio team bring a wealth of experience in other sports including Westham Football club in the English Premier League, and the NZ Warriors.

To find out more about Kinetics and the services we offer feel free to visit our website or contact our friendly admin team by phone (09) 424 5632 or email

Rotorua Marathon Partners