Running – Practical Tips by Marie Byrne
Bevan Wilson’s very experienced physiotherapist Marie Byrne shares her experience of running, avoiding injury, and practical tips.
Classical running goals may include: achieving personal best times (PBs or PRs), running a certain event (e.g. the debut marathon), qualifying for an event (e.g. a World Major Marathon), or beginning to run for fitness, weight loss, and health (e.g. Couch to 5k programs).
The underlying basis for setting such goals is to discover new running limits and explore our individual running potential (and endless pursuit). The positive feelings of achieving in the direction of our yearly running goals or achieving the goal can be extremely rewarding and psychologically uplifting.
The following 5 practical tips should help when planning out your running programme, preventing injury and improving performance with running.
- Not allowing enough time for the goal to be achieved
When there is too short of a time frame to achieve a certain running goal, the runner inevitably succumbs to varying degrees of pressure or anxiety, and feelings of being ‘‘behind’ in their preparations or training.
The result of feeling this way can be that the runner feels the need to ‘cram’ their training.
Such ‘cramming’ may occur in the form of significant training volume, intensity, or even both volume and intensity increases. Cramming can also be found in the addition of extra runs, large increase in the distance of the weekly long run, or removal of rest days. In this way the runner’s physiology and body stands at heightened risk of developing an injury. The work of Sports Scientist Tim Gabbett (Gabbitt, 2018) surmised that in order to minimise the risk of injury, athletes should limit weekly training load increases to <10%.
- Ignoring strength training as part of training routine.
There are many reasons I believe runners don’t strength train and one of them being time and there is no way around this…..Make the time. The second reason is lack of awareness of the many benefits of strength training for distance runners
Benefits of strength training for runners are known to include: improved running economy, reduced injury risk, improved time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed, and improvements in time trial performance and anaerobic parameters such as maximal sprint speed.
- Doing slow training runs too fast
It’s difficult for many runners to make peace with the concept that if they want to run faster, they likely need to slow down in some of their training sessions. Wanting to run faster yet needing to slow down seems contradictory.
In 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower’, Author Matt Fitzgerald outlines that recent studies of the training practices of the world’s leading runners reveal that they spend on average 80% of their total training below the ventilatory threshold. The ventilatory threshold pace is slow enough that a runner can hold a conversation. In well trained runners the ventilatory threshold falls between 77 and 79% of maximum heart rate. In other words, for everyone hard run, the elite distance runner will run four easy runs. By contrast the recreational runner tends to run one easy run for every hard run. The other 20% of training time is spent at high intensity, that is above the respiratory compensation threshold (the point where hyperventilation, or rapid, deep breathing occurs)
Fitzgerald states that new research suggests that recreationally competitive runners improve most rapidly when they do slower runs in training more often than faster runs. The good news is that unless you are an elite runner, it is almost certain that you are doing less than 80% of your training at low intensity, and that you can improve by just slowing down.
- Ignoring bone health
Bones are living tissues that need care and attention e.g. vitamin D and the RDI of calcium.
Despite common belief and sentiment amongst runners, running does not actually enhance bone health-it simply maintains it. That is if you run across your lifespan you have a better chance of ‘slowing the normal age-related decline’ of bone mineral density (particularly in the weight bearing bones such as the pelvis/hips).
What can help bone health is: heavy lifting (e.g. twice per week- think squats and deadlifts) and paying attention to daily calcium intake.
- Over emphasis on stretching & foam rolling
Stretching is not bad, it’s certainly not the devil. It can have a place in a runners weekly training program. The biggest problem with too much focus being given to stretching for endurance runners is that time spent stretching could have been better spent working on strength and conditioning exercises-which have been shown to be very beneficial in the reduction of injury and optimisation of running performance.
A better approach in many instances would be to replace the stretching with some form of strength and conditioning. A systematic review on the effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries found that strength training reduced sports injuries to less than one-third and overuse injuries could be almost halved.
There you have it- 5 tips to help you in your running career!
If you have any hints and tips you would like to share with us, please do via the box below.
If you need further support with any injury avoidance or treatment, do not hesitate to call us on 01483 424505, and we can help.