Simple tips to avoid common training slip ups.

August 27, 2018

Simple tips to avoid common training slip ups.

August 27, 2018

Running is steadily increasing in popularity. It is simply so satisfying to work towards a goal that may initially seem impossible, whether it be speed or distance, and take that moment to bask in the achievement when crossing the finish line.

Runners tend to be very hardy people. Getting up on those wintery dark mornings, strapping on your runners and clocking up the required kilometers takes grit. And it certainly takes grit to do this consistently throughout a 12 or 16 week training program. But it takes more than grit to finish a race uninjured.

Statistics show that over 70% of runners sustain overuse injuries, during any 12 month period. Developing an essentially preventable injury can be frustrating when you have already knuckled down and put in the hard yards. And while we are all built differently, the good news is that these injuries are generally due to a handful of common, and for the most part, avoidable mistakes.

So, what are the common threads that lead to injury?

  1. Overuse: Tim Locke, DBA Run Coach and athlete finds that “one of the most common mistakes people make when training for a race is trying to do too much, too soon.” He has found that “People often neglect the key phase of preparation and instead jump into too much intensity and too much load, resulting in injury or burn-out.” Often the concept of progressive overload is ignored resulting in over-training or overuse. Common overuse injuries like plantar faciitis, a runners knee, may occur when the training load is suddenly increased whether in frequency or duration.
  2. Neglected strength training: it’s not uncommon to find that strength training becomes neglected as the frequencies of training runs increases. Strength training is a crucial part of any running program as it helps to reduce muscular imbalances therefore reducing the overall risk of injury while improving form and speed. Studies have shown that both sprint and endurance performance are improved considerably with the addition of strength training twice a week. And while there is no concrete evidence for one ideal strength training method over another, studies clearly show that you will be able to run faster for longer and feel better than if you skip strength days.
  3. Compromised training intensity: it’s speculated that the social nature of popular running apps may contribute to inefficient training and recovery due to compromised training intensity. The apps can create a preoccupation with how the pace per/km will be perceived socially rather than understanding the scientific reasoning behind the planned run. Locke explained that if he “could give one piece of advice it would be to ensure you’re training at the correct intensity to ensure you’re achieving the desired outcome of your sessions”. Keeping your easy runs easy, and give yourself space to then run harder on your harder day. Too much time in the middle compromises recovery time, and limits your capacity to fundamentally develop as a runner.” Once you dial down the intensity on the easy days, you can make the most of your time and effort leading to developments in speed and efficiency of movement.
  4. Forgetting to rest: rest days are precious. The body needs time to rebuild and repair muscle tissue allowing the body time to recharge while reducing the likelihood of physical and mental burnout and injury. Although it may seem counterintuitive, scheduling in recovery days will help you perform better while reducing the risk of injury and mental fatigue.
  5. Lack of mobility: mobility is an important addition to any running program and can be a real game-changer in avoiding injury. It’s important to pay attend to any niggles that crop up during a run as it may indicate a weakness or tightness that needs to be addressed.

The parting piece of advice from Coach Locke for a beginner is to “start out slowly, speak to your local running store about the correct shoes for your feet, be kind to your body, supplement your running with strength training and find a group to join so you can benefit from group training dynamics and immerse yourself in new social circles.”

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