If your email inbox looks anything like mine you are starting to get marketing emails for some great running races in the area. If not, you might be cooler than me. With spring in the air (maybe?), it’s time to start thinking about signing up for one of these gigs. I find there is nothing more inspiring for my running than to pay someone money so that I can do it with a time chip, under duress and after waking up at 5:30 AM to get to the event on time. I’m starting to wonder why I do these things…
There are some great programs available in the area if you are wanting guidance on starting or returning to a running program. If you’re more of a DIYer, I will go through some basics in this blog to help you start working on your fitness. The most common mistake I see in the clinic is ramping up mileage and frequency too quickly, so try to avoid those things! Find your goal and give yourself a realistic amount of time to achieve it. Otherwise, follow the tips below and you will find yourself to be a lean, mean, racing machine in no time.
- Invest in good footwear. You may think that your shoes are fine, but look at the bottom of your shoes. If the tread is smooth in areas it is time for a new pair. There are a few reasons for this. If the tread is reduced, you no longer have as much spring or shock absorption in your footwear. This means that more force will be going through your own joints, and if you have not been running recently, I would recommend allowing those joints as much cushioning as you can. Also, when tread is altered your foot will strike the ground differently (in the position your mechanics have caused the shoe to wear). This will require more control at the ankle, knee and hip joints to counter versus a new shoe which will help you land each step in a more neutral position.
- Start strong. If you have been enjoying watching re-runs of How I Met Your Mother all winter, know that running is physically demanding in both endurance and strength. Your couch has not adequately prepared you for this. While running is sometimes characterized as controlled falling, healthy running requires power, balance, and good mechanics to avoid injury. I highly recommend some strengthening prior to starting your program. How long can you hold a plank? Can you do a single leg squat? You should be able to perform both of these with excellent form prior to running.
- Use intervals. One of the best ways to progress your endurance is to train with intervals. How far can you run before feeling breathless? That may be a good starting interval for you, with an equal or longer walking period to allow nearly full recovery. Repeat for 4 sets and gradually progress your running time while reducing your rest periods.
- Read a book about it. I highly recommend The Time Crunched Triathlete. You do not have to be training for a triathlon to use it, it’s running programs are applicable to all racing distances. I love that it acknowledges how many other time commitments we all have. It is based on interval training to maximize speed and fitness gains. Another great read is The Competitve Runner’s Handbook. This book is focused solely on running and addresses training programs for all distances.
- Make time for stretching. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Repetitive activity can make muscles pretty tight. Keep them loose with a simple but consistent stretching program.
Edge offers a ‘Readiness to Run’ fitness assessment where your physical therapist will assess your strength, body mechanics and gait to aide in preparation for a running program. We can also offer insight into appropriate footwear based on your specific needs. Injury prevention is just as important to us as injury rehabilitation, and we are happy to consult with you at any point in your quest for fitness. Enjoy all the (upcoming) sunshine, and stay healthy friends!