With so many people signing up to virtual running events, we wanted to share with you our best tips on how to manage your running training, to stay in tip top condition and avoid injury.
With the right balance of output, recovery and good footwear injury can be avoided when training for an event. Injury doesn’t occur because you run; it’s the way you train or the lack of focus on the important things that support your running that can lead to set backs and injuries.
First of all it’s important to understand that there are two main types of injury, ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’. Acute are those where you can pinpoint when it occurred (eg ankle sprain). Chronic injuries build up over time and are far more common in runners, due to the repetitive nature of running, which amplifies initially minor problems. The good news is it’s easier to know when chronic issues are building up and so chronic injuries can sometimes be avoidable.
With this in mind, we have put together some helpful tips to you get across the finish line happy and healthily. 1
- Give yourself enough time to train
One of the easiest ways to cause injury is not giving yourself enough time to train and rushing into a race that you aren’t ready for. Your body needs adequate time to train for the distance. Generally speaking, most marathon training plans range from 12 to 20 weeks. How long you should train depends on your fitness level and goal. If you have a particular race you’d like to run, figure out the date and work backwards for how much time you’ll need to train. You’ll thank yourself later!
2. Don’t build weekly mileage too quickly (or too slowly)
It’s important to know your base mileage to avoid injury. For someone considering a marathon or looking to ‘just finish,’ about 15 miles per week is typically a good base to begin training. For advanced runners, their base could be upwards of 40 miles per week. The general rule of thumb is to increase weekly mileage by about 10% each week during training, but this might be too easy for some. A new runner with a strong base or an intermediate runner could likely increase their weekly mileage by 20 to 25%. It all boils down to how you feel after each week, always listen to your body and drop back where you need.
3. Ensure proper footwear
The right shoes and socks are critical to injury prevention when training for a running event. Shoes too small could cause a blister or rub the wrong way on your ankle. Combine a gait test with a fitting and you are onto a winning and supportive combination. Avoid buying shoes straight off the internet and always try your running shoes on and test them first before buying. When it comes to socks, seamless, synthetic material is your best bet, look for breathable fabrics. Good running shoes and socks are worth the investment. Your feet need to be happy for all your runs.
4. Be sure to mix up your training
Marathon training in particular can increase your chance of developing an overuse injury. Adding in other training sessions allows for more recovery time between high-mileage running and will get the muscles working in a different way. This also helps your body adapt to your training and strengthens muscles. Functional training, strength and mobility sessions are great options. Swimming or biking is especially beneficial for those who might already be injured because its locomotive and endurance based, but without the impact.
5. Warm up and cool down correctly
A five-to-10-minute warm up and cool down is usually the sweet spot for most people. When warming up, you’re just trying to get the body used to the movement and mobilising before adding the impact. Dynamic mobility movement is great for warm-up and some gentle loading on the hips will prepare you. When it comes to cool down, it’s important because it lowers your heart rate, allows you to start to relax and starts the elimination process of lactic acid in your muscles. Add in some dynamic stretches at the end and try to work in some rotational movements to give the body some variety.
6. Sleep and Nutrition
When we sleep our bodies recover, ensuring you’re getting enough sleep each night and going to bed before 11pm, will help your muscles rebuild and fully recover. Sleep and rest are important to build into any exercise regime but even more so when your output is higher. Nutrition also needs to be considered. When you’re training more your body will need more calories and the right balance of macronutrients (fats, carbs and protein). Protein is especially important as many under eat this macro, ensure you include proteins in all meals, especially after your training session. Carbohydrates contain glycogen which turns into glucose and this fuels your muscles, it’s important to ensure you eat some carbs before a workout so that the body doesn’t burn muscle protein as fuel. If your runs are in the morning try to have something like a banana before your run or if that fails something like lucozade will have to do.
Finally, as I mentioned before, always listen to your body, if niggles continue on for too long, always investigate them and don’t put them off. The confusing thing about injury is that pain doesn’t always mean injury and injury doesn’t always mean pain, so if in doubt get yourself to a physio!
I hope this helps and enjoy the event prep.