Training for any race – even a marathon – includes a lot more than just running. Runners who only run are doomed to overuse injuries. To maximise your running performance, you need to train in a manner that will improve all the determinants of your running performance. That means doing a variety of different types of workouts, while taking preventive measures as well.
The key to an injury-free running season is to have these few check -boxes ticked. These include a good warm-up, the right running technique, good muscular and core strength, good muscular flexibility, good recovery system, right running gear and proper nutrition.
So, what does a warm-up really mean for runners?
This must include a set of exercises that will stretch out your muscles and mobilise your joints so that they are prepared for the run. This must include replicating the whole running movement – from taking your leg up from the ground to striking it down – in slow motion. This will allow the brain to train and remind your muscles to activate in the right form.
Add to this a series of simple exercises that will help stretch your body out so as to be primed for a long run.
Do each of these exercises for 20 seconds each.
Once you complete this, complete 4-5 sets of 20-second strides – which just means running but with a longer stride. Use this time to correct your posture or your leg movement, in case you experience any discomfort. The strides help in completing the neuromuscular priming process, and preparing your muscles for the right movement while running.
Recovery and rest
This is one of the most important yet ignored aspects of a running schedule. In the race to better the timings and push the mileage per week, rest and recovery is always given a backseat. If muscles are not given enough time to recover and recuperate; scars developed, which eventually leads to a muscle breakdown or an injury.
The best way to plan your recovery is to follow a strict stretching routine post-workout, schedule a soft tissue release session with your Physical Therapist once in two weeks and a sports massage once in four weeks. This way, your recovery is scheduled and risks of injury are lessened.
Good, proper running gear is very important. Having the right clothes and accessories can make a significant difference to your comfort and success while running. There’s no need to buy all the best equipment, but make sure you have a good, decent running kit to help you stay comfortable and injury-free, when training or competing.
*Socks: Though normal sport socks can be worn, proper running socks are the ideal choice. Running socks are specifically designed to meet the physical demands of running. They provide stability to the runner, while drawing moisture away from the skin. In addition, many running socks now have cushioning and are designed to prevent blistering.
*Shoes: A good pair of running shoes is the most important purchase you will make as a runner. With the help of a biomechanic expert, or sports physiotherapists, get your foot arch evaluated and calibrated to define whether you have a normal arch, flat arch or high-arched foot. A high pronator, for example, requires substantially more cushioning in a shoe with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion.