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Preparing for Running

Many clients have set their goals for 2024 and running is on their list. This may be starting from scratch, or returning to running after a long hiatus. Or it could be returning to running post injury or postpartum. Others are seasoned runners wanting to build up to a half or full marathon.

Although everyone will be at various stages of their running journey, many principles of injury prevention can be applied across the board. Factors such as footwear, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and hydration should all be considered.

Shoes

There are so many options of running shoes out there on the market. It’s very important to be assessed to ensure you are wearing the right shoes for you. We recommend an assessment at The Running Company or Active Feet. They will evaluate you walking and running on a treadmill to ensure they find the best fit shoe for you. Everyone has different foot biomechanics, so the right shoe for you will not be the same as the next person.

Shoes should be replaced every 600-800km, or earlier if you are noticing signs of wear and tear. The more you wear your shoes, the faster they will run out. This includes using them for walking or gym activity. So try to keep your shoes just for running.

It’s also recommended that you don’t run in the same shoes 2 days in a row, to give the cushioning a chance to “reset”. Rotating between two pairs of shoes is a good strategy.

Warm up and cool down

A warm up and cool down does not need to be lengthy, but it’s important not to commence running at pace without warming up your muscles and joints first. Your warm up may be as simple as a 2-3 minute walk, followed by 2-3 minutes of a slow pace jog. Finish your run a few blocks from home and walk the rest of the way as a cool down. Once home stretch out your quads, calves and glutes and use the foam roller to massage your ITB (side of your leg). 

Strength and conditioning

Runners with injuries related to lack of strength or endurance in their lower limb muscles commonly present in the clinic. Running is a single leg exercise, so it’s important to include single leg exercises in your strengthening program. The main muscle groups to target are:

  • Glutes – single leg bridging
  • Quads – single leg squats (ensuring knee is not falling inwards)
  • Calves – single leg calf raises
  • Core – 4 point kneel supermans and planks

We recommended at least 2 strength and conditioning sessions per week. This may be a home program, a gym program or Pilates class (that targets lower limb and core).

Training load

Training load refers to the duration, intensity and frequency of exercise over a period time (usually a week). Gradual progression of training load is the key to avoiding injury and preventing burnout. It’s important to avoid any substantial ebbs and spikes in training load as this can increase injury risk. E.g.  If you have had a pause from training due to injury or holiday, diving straight back into the same duration and intensity puts your muscles under stress that they are no longer acclimated to.  

The 10% rule is the traditional method of increasing training load. E.g. if you run 5km in your first week, the second week you could run 5.5km (10% more) without increasing injury risk. The same can be applied to the intensity of your running. A great article for further detail on training load can be found here https://www.sportitude.com.au/blog/how-to-measure-increase-training-load-for-runners

Hydration

Fluid loss during exercise depends on a number of factors, including outside temperature and running intensity. Our bodies sweat during exercise to keep our core body temperature down. If we become dehydrated the body cannot sweat enough, and our core body temperature rises. This results in increased heart rate, which accelerates fatigue, impairing our running performance.

Dehydration also impairs our cognitive function and therefore our ability to make decisions. This can lead to injury if you keep pushing or stop listening to your body for signs of overload.

Hydrating prior to running and ensuring adequate re-hydration post run is especially important in these warmer months.  For longer runs on warmer days plan your route and know where drinking fountains are to rehydrate along the way.

Every person will require different levels of hydration depending on age, gender, how much you sweat and how intense your running workouts are. Signs of dehydration include loss of energy and stamina on the run, dry mouth, dark yellow urine, decrease in urination, muscle cramping and headaches. 

Nutrition

For those preparing for long distance events such as half and full marathons, planning your nutrition is an important part of your training and preparation.

Everybody is different and has different nutritional needs depending on age, gender, running pace and training program. Ensuring adequate carbohydrate and protein intake will assist with both running performance and muscle recovery. Seek advice from a dietitian or nutritionist to ensure your individual needs are being met.

Professional Help

If in doubt, seek professional help. Our PMPP physiotherapists are all well versed in running injuries and can give you advice on training programs and strength and conditioning. Both Sheree and Lucy also provide comprehensive 1 hour Running Assessments to look at running technique and address areas of imbalance/weakness.

Clinical Pilates is a great way to maintain and build core and glute strength for injury prevention. A program can be tailored to you to focus on strength and conditioning for running. At PMPP we also have Melissa our dietitian consulting on Tuesdays, she can assist with nutrition and hydration advice.

Our friends down the road at Up and Running Podiatry are extremely knowledgeable, thorough and well versed in running injuries and prevention. They can help with footwear advice, orthotics and foot strength and conditioning.

You can also seek advice from a Running Coach to help with training plans and progressions. We recommend Chris from GoRun Australia for tailored advice, running plans and running groups.

~Sally

The following blogs may be useful for further information

https://portmelbournephysio.com.au/5-tips-for-running-success-2/

https://portmelbournephysio.com.au/running-assessment/

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