We all know that injury prevention is better than cure, so follow my top running tips to staying injury free this year and enjoy getting fit with BMF Run Clubs.
1. Comfort First
So, first running tip, over recent years, the advocates of barefoot and minimalist running have suggested we opt for stripped-down minimalist shoes to keep us injury-free, and that over-cushioning is the reason why we've witnessed a rise in running injuries over the last 30 years. However, research has shown that wearing shoes you are comfortable in is the best defence against injury, so always go for comfort first.
2. Get your gait analysed
It's not an exact science but get your gait analysed in a reputable running store, either by video or simply by a qualified person with a good eye. Seeing how your body moves when you run won't be able to determine your perfect shoe (running in a few pairs until you find the most comfortable pair will sort that out) but gait analysis is a good starting point and can sometimes identify muscle imbalances and weaknesses that could lead to injury.
3. 10% rule
The vast majority of running injuries are down to overuse and a result of doing too much too soon. The simplest way to avoid this is to follow the 10 percent rule, i.e. increase your mileage or the intensity of your workout by no more than 10 percent a week. So, if you're doing a long run of 10 miles one week, the following week you can add on one mile, and run 11.
It's also a good idea to have an ease back week every 3/4 weeks, before building again. For example, you may wish to build your mileage, 20, 22, 24, then stay at 24 before adding another 10 percent and running 26.5 in week 5/6.
Rest and recovery are vital ingredients in any runner's recipe for success, rest (active or not) is planned with as much importance as speed work. For most of us one or two days a week off is necessary. If you don't rest, you put yourself at risk of overtraining syndrome. If you find you're not able to sleep, your heart rate is elevated, or your urine is darker than usual, you may have pushed too hard, which could result in a crashed immune system and a burnt out engine!
If you can't bear not to be active, plan in active rest, i.e. a red bib, blue bib or WalkFit session or even a yoga or Pilates class. Stretching is a vital component of a runner's schedule to do it! Don't just rely on that after session stretch. A warm shower afterwards is the ideal time to hold those stretches.
5. Listen to your body
The more you train the easier it is to get in touch with your body and the messages it sends you. When you first start, particularly if you're overweight or sedentary, you may have lost touch with how your body responds to exercise.
Take a mind-body approach to training smarter from the start. It's easy to become complacent and switch off to those vital messages. If you feel a niggle, then listen. A two weekly sports massage, acupuncture or a physio session can all help to keep you in top shape.
One of the most common complaints from beginners is shin splints and it's usually as a result of too much, too soon, but the surface you run on also plays a large part. Smooth, soft surfaces, such as trails and running tracks are far less stressful on your body. Pro Running Tips - If you do experience tight shins then try warming up (slow reps) on a 10% gradient/incline for 5-8 minutes prior to your run
7. Know the score with Core and hips
Common areas of injury for runner's stem from insufficient core stability, poor hip function (due to tight/weak hip flexors/under-active glutes) and muscular imbalances.
Muscular imbalances can be addressed using unilateral leg exercises such as step ups, single leg squats & partner resistance leg exercises. The hip function can be improved dramatically by regular inclusion of kettlebell swings in various forms combined and a good programme of hip mobility. A quick chat with your instructors may be useful to get more info on these running tips.
8. Foam for the win
A foam roller is a simple but very effective piece of equipment for runners. It provides a kind of deep self-massage, and irons out damage to tired muscles. In its most basic form, the roller works on stretching muscles, helping your body to break down scar tissue and soft tissue adhesions, as well as decreasing tone in overactive muscle groups and improving the quality of movement.
9. Our feet are key
Your feet are precious tools. As you transfer energy from landing to lift off, you'll need strength and flexibility to move efficiently. Try hopping, and plyometric moves like jumping squats where you push off using the feet, or a single leg mountain climber to strengthen foot strike muscles. Again, ask your instructors to include these running tips in our sessions.
Have you found these running tips useful? Try a BMF Run Club sessions at a park near you. Also, as a BMF member, you can get 20% discount on running clothing and trainers from our clothing partner Blacks. Check out the members' area for your discount code.
British Military Fitness