Running has been a part of human existence right from the very beginning and if you’ve read Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run” you might very well think we were born to run.
So why does it seem that running is so difficult and I’m not meaning it’s difficult to run, we can all run. If you train properly you can run really fast or really far. No, I’m talking about why does it hurt so much? If we were indeed born to run what is going on?
Here are some concerning statistics on runners
8 of 10 runners will miss training due to injury this year
Despite advances in technology in the last 30 yrs 50% of runners will be injured
So what can we do to help decrease the risk of injury and increase the fun factor when it comes to running? I always say look to the pros! If they are doing it maybe we should consider it. And there is one thing we know about pro runners, they pay attention to detail.
When we are out there with our music, running partners, heart rate / GPS / electronic running coaches – any thing to distract us from the pain and agony of the run…. The pros are operating on a different level. The Pros are paying attention to the details – the rhythm of the stride, the cadence of their breathing, the sound of the foot strike, the flow of the run.
So as you get set to head out for your daily, weekly or sporadic monthly run here are 5 tips that may help you stave off those all too common running injuries and maybe help you enjoy the fruits of your efforts just a little more.
5 Running Tips
1.Equipment: Shoes, Clothing, Technology
- Shoes– Get what is right for you- Get Fitted (Don’t fall for gimmicks)
According to a study done in Switzerland University of Bern, Top of the line shoes Increase risk of injury by 123%
1991 Study in Medicine & science in Sports & Exercise cheaper shoes may be better
- Clothing : 1)Dry Fit breathable clothing is a favourite among runners regardless of the season.
2) The layers rule, two, three even four light layers depending on the weather, find your comfort zone when it comes to layering up for your race or training session. Be sure to train in the clothing you race in.
- Technology: Heart Rate monitors and GPS units can be great for a number of reasons:
1) Keeping track of your miles – training intensity and volume
2) Monitoring speed and elevations
3) And comparing your training from day to day – I like to have our athletes compare their perceived efforts and results to the hard data – its a great exercise for developing self awareness
When working with running athletes we use two basic trainable components of running – the stride length and stride frequency. When training runners we lengthen stride length in very
particular running drills, an athlete’s stride length will naturally increase as they get stronger and perfect their running stride. However, we are constantly monitoring the stride frequency in
training shortening the stride and increasing the frequency.
Here are some other helpful hints:
- Land Midfoot: Don’t be a toe runner or a heel-striker. If you land on your toes, your calves will get tight or fatigue quickly and you may develop shin pain. Landing on your heels means you have overstrided and you’re braking, which wastes energy and may cause injury. Try to land on the middle of your foot, and then roll through to the front of your toes.
- Maintain a short, quick stride: Do not try to lengthen your stride; avoid reaching forward with your foot, which can lead to over-striding and will set you up for injury.
- Keep your knee in line: Make sure your foot strikes under your knee, not in front of it, which can lead to injury. It doesn’t matter whether the heel or forefoot hits the ground first, as long as your foot is not in front of your knee. This is especially important when running downhill.
- Arm Action
- Push up and off: Focus on pushing up and off the ground behind you.
- Use the 2% rule. The goal is to never lose more than 2% of your body weight during a training session or competition. We have everyone weigh in before and after each training session to get an idea of how much fluid weight is lost during exercise. Anything more than 2% equals reduced performance, recovery and increased risk of injuries. Hydration plans should always include hydration strategies before, during and after exercise.
- Only use Sport Drinks, juice and/or gels for events lasting longer than 90 minutes and even then the drinks should be diluted with water. Be sure you don’t try new products on race day, it’s risky business. Stick with the ones you have used during your training.
- As a general guide, during training or on race day consume 6-8oz every 20min. Remember water rules when it comes to hydration.
4. Be Progressive: Volume & Intensity
One of the biggest issues we see when people start new programs is doing Too Much Too Soon. It leads to fatigue, burnout and injuries. We like to start programs on the easy side and work up to
the higher intensity training days. Using strategies like walk/run, intervals or fartlek training is a great way to ease into a program, whatever you do start easy. Remember its how you finish that
counts, take your time building up your training.
Some simple rules for controlling your intensity:
- Talk Test: carrying on a conversation while you are running with a partner its a good way to keep the intensity in check
- Minutes not Miles: Use Time to measure your work not distance. Time is much more forgiving and from training day to training day it’s a better way to compare your work as opposed to looking at how far you have gone.
- Ten Percent Rule: One of the most simple and effective rules for mapping out your training progressions is the Ten Percent Rule. Basically, never increase your Training Volume or Intensity more than a 10% per week! This will help you determine your training over a given time frame or, inversely, the time you will need to achieve your training goals. It is a great guide for not progressing too quickly which can cause fatigue and injuries.
5. Vary Your Training:
Over the course of your training schedule it is vital to mix it up. You would be surprised to learn how quickly the body adapts to the environment and to the stress of training. If you have ever hit a performance plateau while on an unchanging program you know what I mean. So mix it up.
- Cross Train, use other modes of training like Bike, elliptical, Rowers
- Change intensities using Light – Medium – Heavy training days.
- Intervals and Fartlek training are very effective methods for “shocking” the system
- Work in Hills and Stairs
- And, no matter what level you are at always, always make sure you program in proper Strength Training.
Follow these simply running tips and your fun factor has just increased ten fold.