How to Stay Injury Free this Running Season
Marathon season is upon us. For many, it is the result of months (and maybe years) of training. For others, it can be a spark of inspiration to get up and start moving. Whether you are a seasoned runner with hundreds of miles underneath your belt or just getting started, here are some key considerations to ensure you stay injury free this running season.
One of the great things about using running as a means of getting fitter is that the overhead costs are minimal. There are no membership fees; just a pair of trainers and you are good to go. Given that it is so easy to get started, it is tempting to apply this to your training and just get moving asap. The problem with this is that you could end up side-lined before you have even got into a rhythm and routine with your running programme.
A well thought-out warm up will give your body the opportunity to loosen up and move better, as well as gradually increasing your heart rate so that you aren’t exhausted 5 minutes into your run.
Start off by walking for a few minutes. If you are planning on running in a nearby park, use the journey as part of your warm up. By increasing your strides after a few minutes, you will stimulate the muscles and tendons that you will be using during your run. Gradually increasing your speed will wake up your nervous system, meaning you won’t catch it by surprise once your start running.
Once you are feeling a bit warmer, add in some dynamic stretches to really loosen up. Some common dynamic stretches include:
- Jogging forward and raising your knees as close to your chest as you move
- Jogging forward and flicking your heels backwards
- Backwards jogging
- Lunging forward and raising your arms above your head
- Side-stepping (both sides)
- Leg swings – hold onto something and swing one leg forwards and backwards and then from side to side. Repeat with the other leg.
Now that you are properly warmed up, you should be good to go!
Gradually Increase your Distances
A marathon is a long distance – 26.2 miles to be precise. It is virtually impossible to complete this run without proper training. Even if you are starting out, the prospect of running 5k or 10k will probably seem daunting. You can certainly get there; it’s just a case of putting in the miles and being sensible with your training. Jumping into a 10k or half marathon on your first run is a recipe for disaster.
By gradually increasing your distances over time, your body will adapt to the strain that you are putting it under. Before you know it, 5k will be comfortable and you can start to increase your speed and / or distances to get you closer to achieving your goals.
So many runners ignore the cool down phase of their training, despite it being crucial to remaining free from injury. Cooling down allows your body to gently return to its pre-run state, meaning it won’t seize up and will allow you to recover quickly ahead of your next workout. Lightly jogging and walking for a few minutes after your run will make a massive difference. Follow this up with some stretching and foam-rolling and you will in great condition ahead of your next run.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
As mentioned earlier, the costs of running are minimal. All you need is a pair of trainers and time. That being said, you need to make sure you have the right trainers for your running style. The latest minimalist, lightweight shoes might look great but they might not be right for you and you could end up with an injury (most likely shin-splints), especially if you over pronate.
Over-pronation is very common and occurs when your foot rolls inwards when landing on a surface. It causes a twist in your foot, shin and knee, quickly causing damage and derailing your training. Motion control or stability shoes will lock your foot in place and reduce the rolling, allowing you to pound the pavement pain-free.
If you want to take your running programme seriously but aren’t sure if this will affect you, your local running shop will be able to perform a gait analysis and offer advice on what shoes are best suited for you.
The rest comes down to you. Hard work and determination will help you achieve your goals and hopefully by following these tips you will remain injury free, allowing you to make steady progress without constantly being in a period of recovery. If you are running any races this season, good luck and don’t forget to have fun!
If you want to find out more about staying injury free this running season get in contact with us here.