A common myth is that running is bad for us. In fact, it has many benefits and is very rarely bad for you if done properly. Here are a few hints and tips that I hope you find useful, no matter if you are just preparing for a short fun run, or a longer competitive race.
Top tips for preparing for a race
Make sure you have continued your exercises up to the race. Strength is important in your muscles and tendons. We often talk about the “stronger for longer” philosophy. The stronger you are, the more fatigue resistant you will be.
Make sure prior to the race you have a rough plan as to the pace you wish to run. Don’t change much from your training schedule, especially at the start.
Be dynamic with your warm up. We tend to encourage squats/lunges, toe walking/jumps as part of a warm up, not stretches. Get these muscles ready for what you want them to do which is to create power and strength
The most common cause of injuries that we see in our clinics is from a spike in training which causes an overload stress to the soft tissues. Build up your speed and distance gradually giving yourself plenty of time. Set a realistic baseline as a starting point, this might be as little as a few hundred metres but it will give you a good point to progress from.
Make sure you are continuing with your strengthening exercises 2-3 times a week. This will allow you to create nice new strong collagen in your soft tissues which will help prevent injury.
If you develop a few aches and pains, don’t stop running altogether. Try reducing sped and or distance or reduce back to your baseline amount and then build back up. You may want to speak to a Physiotherapist about the injury and see if your training or exercise programme can be modified to aid a swift recovery
Common Running Injuries
Most running injuries affect the soft tissues, often the tendons. These often present as Achilles tendon problems, plantar fasciitis, patella tendon problems, hip pain etc. It is commonly a response to the tendons being overloaded through lack of correct conditioning exercises or a spike in training as previously mentioned. These injuries often do not need to stop running but you may need to reduce intensity whilst you rehabilitate the injury.
Pain is also often experienced around the patella femoral joint (or knee cap joint) from running and t
his is a common problem seen in our clinics. The causes of this can often be due to weakness around the top of bottom of the leg, or muscle tightness affecting how the knee cap moves.
Very occasionally a runner may suffer from stress fractures but these are very rare, and normally treated with conservative management/rest.
If you experience, aches and pains with running that do not seem to settle, it is best to speak to someone about it. Whilst rest can often ease the pain, the problem then often recurs when the runner starts their running again.
As mentioned, strengthening exercises are a really important way of keeping your muscles and tendons strong enough so they have the capacity to deal with running, no matter what your ability.
These exercises can be done with minimal equipment and often a gym ball and exercise band is all that is required.
For the squat and lunge, you might want to use some weights to make it harder, or put some weights in a ruck sack.
The hip abduction with the band requires a piece of theraband which your Physiotherapist can provide, or can be bought on line
For the exercises, 3 sets of 10, or as many as you can is a good amount to do. If this is too difficult to begin with, then maybe start with three sets of 5 and then build up.
For the plank, we would suggest you do three sets to fatigue each time.
All of the exercises should be sufficiently challenging for you. You should try and do them 3-4 times a week if you can
Race recovery tips
Make sure you suitable hydrate during and after the race as this will help recovery and make sure you try and eat afterwards to replace any lost electrolytes.
Often post-race massages can help alleviate muscle soreness post-race.
After a race you may want to taper down your training a little bit, to aid some recovery before you start preparing for your next race.
I hope you have found this information useful. If you have any queries, please feel free to contact Colney Physio.