Injury prevention in runners - Grace's top two tips!
Grace's recent experience with an injury and her top two tips on preventing injuries as a runner.
Hello and thanks for choosing to read our blog! Grace here, co-director of Four and lover of all things female health and running. I recently trained for and raced in a 50km ultramarathon in the beautiful town of Naseby and I was pretty gutted when I had to pull out halfway through due to a silly hip injury!
Instantly I knew where I had gone wrong in my build up - not enough strength training and not enough mental rest/recovery. Both of these are key topics I am often discussing with my clients and unfortunately, they are both commonly neglected!
If you have ever found yourself injured and wondered what you could have done differently, continue reading for my top two tips to help keep you injury free and on the trails.
1. Strength training
Strength training is often one of the first things to drop off for a runner. We would rather be out running on the trails and in the fresh air than in the gym under a barbell! However, strength training is one of the BEST things that you can do to complement your running training.
Why? Strength training and heavy lifting is ideal for building muscle and tendon strength and power. If done in the right way it can help to improve your running technique, running economy and keep you stable and strong throughout your stride to prevent the onset of niggles. It is also amazing for your bone health!
How? Ideally, you would be performing a combination of heavier global movements like a squat or deadlift, as well as some unilateral exercises such as a single leg squat, lunge or step up. It also never hurts to add some stability work and core training.
When? 2-3 x per week is plenty! Aim for 30-45 minutes of targeted training and try to avoid doing this right before a fast run or a longer session. Running on tired legs isn’t the best for adaptation so be careful not to overload too quickly!
If you need help with a strength program or aren’t sure where to start - we are available to help with this and can provide you some exercises to do at the gym or at home.
2. Load management. Too much stress and not enough rest.
What do I mean by load management? Overall load includes things like training volume (duration and intensity), amount of recovery (nutrition, rest and sleep) and mental stress (work, social activities). The combination of these factors determines the amount of stress that the body is under, and subsequently how well we will respond and adapt to our training.
Ideally runners should be aiming at no more than 10% increases per week in training volume, with some rest or low training weeks dotted in every now and then.
Managing recovery and mental workload is equally important. If your body is tired or living in a state of increased stress, it is harder for it to respond to your training loads and recover.
Keeping an eye on all of the different factors in your life that could influence your training response and getting the basics right first such as sleep, nutrition and down time can have a huge impact on your overall performance.