It's 2018 and the start of the new year so lots of resolutions and reflections on how to improve this year vs. last year. Some people decide to take up running in hopes of "getting in shape" and losing weight. Some want to improve their run performance, run faster/stronger and get a PR. Most runners make the mistake of thinking to achieve those goals, they need to run more or do more fast runs, tempo runs, etc. There is some truth to that-Obviously in order to run faster, you have to practice running fast according to the SAID Principal: Specific Adapations to Imposed Demands). However, speed work is also the quickest way for beginning and experienced runners to get injured. Especially for any runners who've had a previous history of various injuries i.e ankle sprains, achilles, hamstring tendiniitis, plantar fasciitis, etc.
There is a staggering statisitic that 82% of Runners get injured! Running fast and running lots of mileage without the strength and capacity to withstand the forces going through your joints and muscles (something like 3-5x your body weigth on 1 leg) is a sure recipe for a dreaded injury that will have you sidelined from running. In reality, Injury Prevention and Run Performance enhancement are really the same thing when it comes to running. If you're injured, you can't train and work on running fast. So if you're looking for longevity in your sport, you may want to re-consider all the mileage you run and how you train.
Instead of just focusing on actual running and speed work, I come from a different perspective. Instead of Running to get in shape, focus on getting in shape to run! (Diane Lee,PT). As a Physical Therapist who specializes in treating running-related injuries and a runner myself, I've researched and implemented the following 4 ways you can improve your run and get in shape without getting hurt or injured:
1) Increase your Work Capacity- The best way to increase your Engine and work capacity is by strength training. But it also needs to be specific to your goal or activity. Runners have specific needs so their training should reflect that. There's that SAID principle again (see ablove). Lots of single leg training, posterior chain, foot strengthening. Yes, your feet are super important as they are the 1st things to hit the ground and the forces they absorb then dictate what your legs and core muscles do up the chain.
2) Stop getting Injured/Prevent Injuries before they happen- Nothing stops you in your tracks and derails your training like a dreaded injury. If you have to take breaks from training due to pain, you can't work on that PR. When you start to feel a little "niggle", nip it the bud ASAP before it turns into a full blown injury. STOP run injuires before they stop you! Should you run through the pain? A good rule of thumb is if you have more than a 3/10 on the pain scale, you probably need a break from running. But don't just sit on the couch! You can cross train by biking, swimming, stair climber and strength training.
3) Work on fixing bad movement patterns/fixing your mobility problems- Got stiff back or stiff hips? Running with excess stiffness or poor flexibility is like biking with your brakes on. As a PT, I know that crappy hip mobility usually leads to knee problems and crappy foot mechanics can lead to back, hip and knee pain.
4) Improve your Run form- This includes measuring your cadence, checking if you overstride, and examining any unusual assymetries side to side, etc.
If you need some help or guidance in what you should be doing to make this your best run year, feel free to reach out via email or give us a call to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals this year! You may also join us for "The Bulletproof Runner's Strength & Mobility Series", Learn more HERE