Top 5 Tips For Running
When it comes to running the only gear you need is a pair of shoes. The right shoe may not prevent injury, but the wrong shoe can certainly lead to injury. No two people have exactly the same feet, and thus no one shoe works for everyone. Shoe fit is based on different factors such as foot shape, your running style (heel, mid, or fore foot striker), do you pronate, supinate or have a neutral landing? Once you find the right shoes try on a few pairs and run in them, most good running shoe stores will have a treadmill. Are they comfortable?? Remember if your shoes aren't comfortable now, how do you think they will feel 4km into a 5km run or 36km into a marathon?
I recommend going to a reputable running store and asking the staff for help. Some running stores will be able to provide a video analyse of your running style to see which shoes will fit the best. If you are prone to injuries or are considering running longer events, take the time to have a video analyses. The longer the event, the more time you will spend in your shoes training. You'll want to know that the shoes you are wearing will not cause you injuries and time off from running.
Never cut costs when it comes down to your running shoes as the dollars you may save on not buying the right shoes for your feet/running style can add up on physiotherapist, massage therapist, podiatrists or any other corrective therapy.
#2) Structured Plan
Having a structured personalized training plan will help you develop your strength, distance and speed in running. I'm not going to say it will keep you injury free, but it is the best way to safely increase your training volume to become a better runner.
Your training plan will take into account your goals, fitness level, how many days you are willing to train, rest days, cross training/strength training days and what type of running you need to do that day (slow, tempo, long, speed, hills, intervals). When runners have no training plans, they become aimless and either do too much too soon, which could results in injuries and frustration, or they end up doing too little and find that their progression stalls or is much slower than anticipated, this can play a role in sapping runners motivation.
Your plan can be written up by a coach or a personal trainer who will hold you accountable to the plan and also adapt the plan if your situation changes. Remember it is only a plan, listen to your body as over training will cause injury.
#3) Warm up / Cool Down / Stretch
It is important to do a warm up before starting exercise as it prepares the body for exercise in a few ways. Firstly and most well-known is that it Increases the blood supply to, and temperature of, the active muscles. It also increases synovial fluid to the joints which acts like oil to lubricate the joints, and lastly, it stimulates us mentally to focus on the exercise ahead.
Should I stretch before a run?? This is still a topic of much debate. Studies looking at the inclusion of stretching in a warm-up have not found that it offers any additional injury-prevention benefits over and above a standard warm-up or that it aids performance. However if you have tightness in a particular muscle or preparing for a speed or hill session, it is recommended that you include dynamic stretching, working your muscles through some of the ranges of motion they'll need. Save your static stretching for after your run, holding each stretch for a minimum 20sec each. This process will help aid all the benefits of your cool down
A solid cool down after your run is just as important as your warm up. The warm up prepares your body for the workout ahead, the cool down transitions your body back into its resting state, flushes out the waste products, and stop the pooling of your blood.
#4) Importance of Slow / Recovery Runs.
Our bodies are not designed to train hard every day. Because of the stress we put on our bodies and the damage that happens within our muscles. The key to training is recovery, your body does not adapt while it is under stress, but afterwards when you are recovering. This recovery and adaption can be enhanced by gentle exercise which helps clear waste products out of the muscles and increases blood flow. Both adaptions help to repair our muscles faster which avoids over training our muscles and injuries.
According to the "Sports Medicine Australia" website a survey in 2008.
"Up to 70% of recreational and competitive runners sustain overuse injuries during any 12-month period"
"Overuse injuries, as a result of training errors, are more common than acute injuries such as ligament and muscle sprains and strains".
"Overuse injuries can occur from training errors (running frequency, duration, distance, speed and lack of leg strength and flexibility) and inappropriate surfaces, terrain and footwear".
This is why the slow (foundation) / recovery runs are so important.
The slow run is a steady, low-intensity run of short to moderate duration and is at a pace where you can hold an easy conversation with someone.
The recovery run is intended to be done as the next run after a hard workout. Often an alternative to taking a day off, they serve to increase running volume in a gentle way.
# 5) Never compare yourself
I hear this all the time and was guilty of it myself. As runners we sometimes compare ourselves to other runners. Never do this!! There is always going to be someone faster, stronger, can run farther or that person who never gets injured. Don't get crazy comparing yourself to others. It can discourage you from achieving your goal; instead focus on YOU!!!
Remember that we all start somewhere. It is important to take a step back and evaluate your own goals and WHY you are running (fun, challenge, fitness, weight loss).
Level 2 Intermediate Recreational Running Coach (Athletics Australia)*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.