Whether you’re just starting out or have years of running experience, there are three things you shouldn’t compromise on. Incorporating this advice into your training will keep you injury-free and help you meet your goals.
1. Strength Training For Runners
Some of the most common injuries runners encounter are related to glute weaknesses and overall muscle imbalances. These strength deficits often turn into pain in and around the hips and knees. This can be counteracted by appropriate strength training, which is the number one best way for runners to reduce injuries and increase speed and endurance.
To address glute weakness and muscle imbalances, runners should ensure that every strength workout involves some type of glute activation work before the main workout begins. Monster walks and glute bridges are two excellent examples. In addition, make sure to include unilateral (single-sided) exercises such as single leg squats, lateral lunges, split squats, etc.
Glute activation exercises are essential because they help ‘wake up’ your glutes before weight training so you can use and strengthen these muscles in your main lifts. Unilateral work is essential because it exposes weak muscles.
Almost every runner has some type of muscle imbalance that often goes unnoticed until an injury presents itself. With the correction of these imbalances early, you can not only save yourself a significant amount of time and money by avoiding physio, but you will also unlock a lot more speed in your runs!
2. Progressive Overload Training
Another cause of injuries that arises in new runners and overeager experienced athletes stems from starting out with runs that are too long. When beginning a new running program, it is crucial that you start with small runs (i.e. 20 mins) and slowly build up your distance. For those that have never done any running in the past, a walk/ run progression would be most appropriate.
The most common recommendation for increasing your running distance is a 10 to 15 per cent volume increase per week. However, keep in mind this is more of a loose guideline as opposed to a hard and fast rule. Pay close attention to how your body feels – if you are feeling quite sore and tired, skip the volume increase for the week and repeat the volume from the week before.
3. Athletic Recovery Weeks
Whether you are a new or experienced runner, scheduling recovery weeks throughout your training cycle is fundamental for allowing your body to recover from the stress of training. Despite the name, recovery weeks do not mean ‘sit on the couch and don’t move.’ Rather, recovery weeks are simply times in your training where you decrease the volume and intensity of your efforts.
Generally, the length of your run should be decreased by anywhere from 10 to 50 per cent, and the intensity can be dropped by running fewer interval sets, slower paced intervals or dropping the intervals for that week altogether.
It’s clear that running isn’t a simple matter of tying up your shoes and heading down the street. It’s important to enrich your runs by adding some weight training, increasing your volume slowly and taking time to recover, so you’ll be able to fully enjoy your runs and see improvement while staying injury-free.
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