As the days are finally starting to cool down, the winter running season is fast approaching. Whether you’re a weekend park runner or training for a marathon, it’s important to prepare your body and prevent overuse injuries that could stop you running for the season. Here are Ally’s 7 top tips to help you get through the season without time out due to injury.
1. Start training early and often
It’s ideal to get out for a run at least 3 times a week if you are training for an event. Aim to do 2 shorter runs and a third longer run, increasing these distances as you get closer (and fitter) to your event.
2. Warm up
It’s important to slowly increase your heart rate and generally loosen up your joints in preparation for a long distance run. Start with a few minutes of walking progressing to easy jogs including acceleration and deceleration over 100m. Finish your warm up with dynamic stretching rather than Static stretching. Dynamic stretching has been shown to better prepare your muscles giving you more power and a lower injury rate than static stretching.
3. Stretch cool down
A stretch cool down helps to flush out lactic acid and restore normal muscle length. Conclude your run with 5 minutes of gentle aerobic exercise (fast walk, slow jog) with deep breathing to return the body to its normal resting rate. Follow this with long static stretches i.e 30 second holds, 3 repetitions. Think gluts, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and calves.
4. Hydrate and get appropriate nutrition
See our dietitian Regina Tilyard to help you fuel your body appropriately pre-during-and post exercise. Always consume 2 litres of water daily, but increase this if you have exercised.
5. Take 2 rest days before the event
If anything, do a slow, very short 15min run to burn off nervous energy but definitely don’t set out for a long, hard last-minute training session. You will only fatigue your body and then underperform on race day and potentially be at risk of injury when you try to push harder.
6. Include strength and core stability training
Endurance athletes can be prone to overuse injuries of the lower limb. You can help safeguard yourself from these tendon injuries of the hip knee and foot by staying strong. Include 3 strength sessions a week of squats, lunges, heel raises, glut bridges, balance and abdominal exercises. If you are inexperienced in these types of exercises, or already suffering pain in your hip knees or feet consult one of our physiotherapists.
7. Get enough sleep
6-8 hours before exercise is ideal to allow the body to repair and prepare for exercise. Not enough sleep and you could already be fatigued before your event! This puts you at risk of a muscle tear, especially when trying to power up that hill that always seems to be in the last kilometre before the finish line!
This post was written by Allyson Flanagan, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy Centre.