With the New Year now a very distant memory many of us are fully committed to our 2019 goals. For some of us it might have be to simply pick up a pair of shoes and get out for a run. For others the Spring races are only just around the corner. The Virgin Money London Marathon is on the horizon as are local races such as the Mercer Surrey Half, Cranleigh 15/21 and Magna Carter Half/Marathon. Our clients are also looking beyond Surrey, with the Manchester Marathon on the 7th April and Brighton Marathon on the 14th April.
Whatever your plan, sustaining an injury through over-training, lack of recovery or strength work can be frustrating yet there are a number of ways that you can help keep common injuries at bay. Training effectively at any level puts demands on your body and so ensuring that additional conditioning and recovery periods are part of your plan is essential. Here we take you through a few of them.
Good running form
Form is the building block from which all good running starts. It ensures that muscles are working with the right movement pattern and the kinetic energy generated from the leg stride is used as efficiently as possible. Equally developing the correct running form ensures that loads are distributed evenly across the entirety of the leg. This is no truer than at the top of the leg, where the hip abductors are key to pelvic stability. Our Run Lab has courses for all levels of runners and focuses on developing a good base of movement. The benefits of correct running form are also covered in depth in our earlier blog here.
Developing a nutrition plan
Eating properly is clearly important however with such busy lives it is often difficult to incorporate food that is both nutritious and appealing. Yet eating properly will not just improve your physical health but also make you feel more mentally prepared for hard physical training. Pre-run, a high carbohydrate food with low fibre content is generally best when fueling for long runs of over an hour. This can be followed during the run itself by around 60g of carbohydrate per hour of running. The type of foods you consume should be practiced with during training to ensure no adverse reaction.
Afterwards, correct post-run nutrition is also vitally important for restoring your glycogen levels and muscle repair. A mix of high protein and carbohydrate foods is key in the first few hours after a run for replacing what’s been depleted. The temptation is always to gorge on quick sugar and fat based food after a run and this is where having a nutrition plan in place can really help. Doing the work on a nutrition plan at the start of the week rather than deciding on the fly when time is short can allow you to get the right types of food at the right time. Dani, our in house dietician, offers a range of expert assessment options to allow a plan to be properly made and tracked.
Increase mileage gradually
When you’ve found your mojo it’s difficult to keep this in mind, but increasing your training load by no more than 10% is a sure fire way to keep your progression sustainable. This can be applied at all levels; a single run of 20mins for example should be increased by no more than 2mins, whilst a weekly mileage of 15 miles should be increased by no more than 1-2miles. Thinking in this way will keep your improvement curve achievable and stop you over-reaching what your body is capable of. Equally if you miss a session it’s important to not then over-train to try and catch up the mileage missed, doing so will only put your body under unnecessary strain that it might not be capable of.
Incorporating strength training
Very few runners look to weight training as part of their training however the benefits are significant. Strength training is a key component of our Run Lab as stronger legs are not only faster but less prone to injury and ensure that good posture is maintained. Lunges and unweighted squats are all good starting points however it’s equally important to think laterally as well. Running is a very linear sport and often neglects to develop muscle groups such as the hip abductors which are key to stabilsing the hip and knee to help prevent the likelihood of injury. When planning strength exercises, look at incorporating lateral band walks and side leg raises. With so many potential exercises, designing a proper programme is difficult and specialist help is worth looking at to ensure the right exercises are done along with good form.
Start Pilates, barre or yoga
Developing on from running form, flexibility is key to achieving this. Stretching and utilising a foam roller after your run is a good starting point, but an excellent option is to attend a regular class of Pilates, barre or yoga. All these exercises are excellent for developing many underlying aspects of running and ensuring a strong foundation of strength and flexibility. As well as improving your flexibility, balance and core strength, these classes also enhance areas runners often neglect such as upper body and back. The more supple and loose a runner can be, the less likely they are to pull or tear a muscle or injure a joint through poor flexibility. It’s important as well to mix other forms of exercise in, breaking up the physical the monotony of running but also the mental solitude, and the classes we offer at our Guildford practice are an excellent way of socialising with a new group of people.
Build in some cross training
Your body will often give you signs that things might be about to deteriorate. A twinging muscle, mild pain in a joint or even just general fatigue are all signs that the body needs time to recover. Sometimes this might involve a period of complete rest but often a good option is to change activity and utilise a different set of muscles. Cycling, swimming, rowing, or even hill walking are all excellent forms of active recovering, and can also offer alternative ways of getting harder interval sessions in as well.
Book a sports massage
Sometimes tightness and soreness just will not go away. Periods of sustained training and exercise will inevitably cause tissue damage, and an excellent way of getting on top of this is to book a sports massage. The benefits can be two fold, tight muscles can often be a precursor to injury, and so in these cases a deep tissue massage can help alleviate knotted muscles and get the muscle performing properly again. Equally effective massage also stimulates blood flow to damaged tissue, aiding recovery and encouraging muscle repair. Massage is often effective for both injury prevention and cure and is a useful addition to many other forms of treatment. For the healthy runner, booking a massage once a month during a recovery week can enhance the quality of that rest period, whilst for an injured runner massage can sometimes be an effective accompaniment to physiotherapy or osteopathy treatment.
Keep a training log
With all these different elements we’ve outlined above it can be difficult to keep tabs on the impact and benefit of each. Equally if injury does occur the cause could be down to any number of different things. Keeping a diary is a huge help to keeping on top of this. These can be huge complex spreadsheets, but even just a basic line about the day’s training, nutrition and general condition and health will begin to show patterns that you might have otherwise missed. Eating a certain food item before a run or running on a particular surface could be the trigger to one thing or another, and a training log will help you identify this.
Interested in learning more?
Preventing injury is a complex and multifaceted topic, with often no single answer. For this reason getting personalised advice is always worthwhile. To help you make decisions about what advice you might need, we’ve been running free evening sessions led by our clinic’s experts. These informal workshops with our running team are designed to suit athletes of any standard. Small groups will rotate through each session and this will be followed by an opportunity to have a chat with them about any injury concerns or queries.
These have proven very popular and to book your free place at the next session click here.
Equally if you have any questions, or would like to book a formal consultation with any of our clinicians then please get in contact at: firstname.lastname@example.org