As simple as running seems, going for your Sunday jog requires an incredibly complex interaction of different body systems. The body is such an amazing machine that it does all of this automatically, so that you can get out there and burn what it is you need to burn (calories, stress, energy).
In order to maintain this harmony we do need to help our bodies out and understand a few basic principles. Today we are going to go through the 5 most important principles to maximising performance and preventing injuries in runners.
1. Start Low and Slow
What this means is that, if you are just starting out with running, your first runs should be slow in pace and short in distance. Your body needs time to establish a good base in terms of technique, cardiovascular fitness and lower limb control. Once this has occurred then build up your programme in a graduated manner. Many people have come unstuck by building up their miles and pace too quickly. This also applies to established runners who are increasing their miles and training. Things that your body will absorb over 5-10km will come to head if you start running 12+km. Gradual progression allows your body to consolidate gains in strength, control and cardiovascular fitness to provide a solid base for further progression.
2. Never change 2 variable factors at one time
This relates to our previous point regarding gradual progression. During any given run, don’t try and run faster and further. This will outstrip your body’s ability to deal with the loads placed on it and therefore will increase the likelihood of overuse injuries. In practical terms this means focusing on distance for certain runs and pace for others (e.g. a long run and an interval run).
3. Have rest Days!
Rest days are essential. Your body needs to recover from your previous run (at least partially) before you run again. You should be having at least 2 rest days per week if you are a regular runner, and if you are starting out or returning after injury, rest for at least 48 hours between runs.
4. Incorporate cross training
Rest days don’t necessarily mean sitting around on the couch (although it is very important to incorporate some of these into any running programme). Use your rest days to cross train. Cycle, swim, gym and complete the runfit5 Strength exercises! You can also include Yoga and Pilates to help your running.
5. Run to a programme
Having a set programme is key to tying all of these points together. It also really helps with motivation. There are many great training programmes out there for everyone from first time runners to those doing their 20th ultra-marathon. Make sure you look for the above principals in any programme you might want to use. Also look at joining a club. Most running clubs have a ton of very experienced runners who are happy to help with anything from technique to running programmes. Joining a club also adds motivation and a social aspect to a sport that can otherwise be very individual.
The experienced team at Bespoke Physiotherapy in Covent Garden specialise in the prevention and treatment of running injuries. So if you need an expert running assessment and individualised care, BOOK NOW for an initial assessment.
Make sure you arm yourself with the knowledge to get the most out of your running by exploring the rest of our runfit5 series and visiting the site of our runfit network partners inclinicphysiotherapy.
To talk to our team directly or learn more about Physiotherapy and running please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook, instagram and Twitter.
Until next time, happy running!
Director and Principal Physiotherapist