Its the beginning of the year and resolutions are on the forefront of everyones mind. A lot of you will be creating new running goals, challenges, and hopefully promises of good intentions to do things you know you're suppose to do, but don't. You might be starting off the new year injured - or swearing that this is the year that you won't get an injury. Either way, there are a few things that you may want to consider to make sure you're successful. Run3D's Physiotherapist, Andrea Bachand, has come up with a few suggestions:
1. Speed work
This is the year you want to achieve that PB. Even if its just to cut a few seconds off your Park Run time or to make a bigger leap, the best thing you can do to get faster - is to run faster. Simple isn't it? Shorter, higher quality sessions will go a lot further than those longer plods we are all guilty of. Studies have shown that to improve speed you need to throw in speed sessions such as intervals and fartleks, opposed to wishful thinking, which is slightly less effective.
Top Tip: Exchange your 40 minute plod for a harder 30 minute interval run. Remember your recovery time too!
2. Foam rolling
I must sound like a broken record about foam rollers by now - but they really are helpful. It seems silly that inflicting so much pain on yourself is actually going to be of any benefit, but if you think about it, it does make sense. One of the main problems that causes overuse injuries, apart from accumulation of too much load, is the lack of blood flow. Rolling on a foam roller is just like giving yourself a (very painful) massage. This helps to increase blood flow to the muscles and supposedly helps to break up fascia and scar tissue. The alternative would be to get a massage everyday, but for most of us the more financially feasible solution would be the foam roller. The research on it says longer bouts of about 5 to 10 minutes are most effective. However, a lot us wouldn't be able to tolerate that, so i'd recommend starting with 1 or 2 minutes per muscle group and work your way up. Quads, calves, adductors ( inner thigh), glutes are the key areas to make sure you cover.
Top Tip: Add in 2 minutes of foam rolling on your quads, calves, adductors and glutes three times per week. If you're really brave, try doing this one leg at a time.
There is a strong correlation between muscle weaknesses and overuse running injuries. Lack of muscle strength and activation leads to a greater amount of instability around a joint and therefore reduced control. This creates an increase in load to a joint that overtime is what creates those niggly injuries we often accuse of springing out of nowhere. But, in fact they have been brewing for quite a long period of time. You're probably thinking now - with all the potential running injuries out there, how could you possibly have time to strengthen everything? Fortunately, studies have shown that your hips and your ankles are the key joints that cause problems and contribute to the control with walking and running gait. Although there are other areas that you may require depending on your injury history, strengthening the muscle groups that control these joints are likely going to help give you more stability.
Top Tip: Add in exercises to increase your hips and ankle strength 3 days a week. Use therabands and initially aim to keep the resistance low and reps high. As you improve, increase the intensity with resistance and/or reps. Remember youre trying to build on your ability to control - so don't rush it.
5. Days of Training
The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) carried out a study in 2004 to investigate the impact of a 'Less is More' theory whilst training for the Kiawah Island Marathon in December. The programme consisted of 3 days of running training over a 16 week period prior to the Marathon: One speed run, one tempo run, and one longer run. Out of the 25 participants at the beginning of the study, only 2 dropped out ( one due to injury and the other due to other an unrelated incident) and 2 dropped down to the half marathon due to minor injuries. The remaining 21 participants all finished the marathon, 15 of which achieved personal best times ( PB's) and 4 improved from their most recent marathon time. This study proved that running less, but actually with greater quality and harder workouts improved performance and reduced incidence of injury.
Top Tip: Focus on quality sessions. Less is more, even in long distance running.
This is a fairly big debacle and probably one of the more common questions we get from runners of all abilities. What shoes should you wear? What is the BEST shoe? How long should you keep your shoes for? How do you know when you need new shoes? The answers are a unfortunately a bit vague - but the reason is because we are all built differently and therefore there are a lot of factors to take into account for each individual.
As far as we are aware at the moment, there isn't ONE shoe that is going to work for everyone. Just because a particular shoe has worked wonders for you and completely abolished all your injuries, it won't necessarily do that for your running partner. Some people swear by a particular shoe brand, others by no shoes at all. There really isn't one right answer for everyone, just a right answer for you.
Neutral or Stability? The finite control and movements of your ankles are very difficult to see by eye and the only accurate objective analysis to determine which kind of shoe is appropriate for you is through 3D Gait analysis. If you don't have access to 3D analysis - the best thing you can do is find a shoe thats comfortable - and that may not necessarily be the one handed to you by the shop sales associate.
Top Tip: Find a shoe that is comfortable. Try on a few pairs to see which ones you like best - its a very subjective decision! Its tempting, but avoid choosing your running shoe based on colour alone!
Hopefully you will find this advise helpful when taking your next year of running into account. Try to incorporate some strengthening, foam rolling, and
improving your training strategies. Lets make 2017 the year that you don't get injured - AND you get faster! Bonus.
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