I want to start my blog by restating the importance of doing cardio-vascular (CV) activity; it may be running, cycling or swimming to name a few. The aim is at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day; moderate means the heart is pumping and the body is moving but its not a maximal effort! The benefits of CV exercise on the body far far outweigh any injuries we may pick up while doing these activities. However, as with any physical activity there is a risk of picking up little aches and pains. But not to worry, I’ve created these 5 top tips to help you avoid injuries:
1.Listen to your body
No matter how good you are at running, always listen to your body! While running ask yourself: How is my form? Is my heart rate okay? How are my feet feeling? Am I feeling good psychologically?
I’m not suggesting this is a constant task, but being aware of your body will help dictate your pace and ensure your don’t push too hard! Positively, this will help improve your pace as you acknowledge that you’re feeling ready to push yourself!
The other important thing to note is that we cannot always be at 100%. So embrace this; when you’re feeling tired and lacking motivation go for a slower run or less distance, focus on technique – not speed and enjoy it!
2.Patience, Patience, Patience
This is a tip for all runners new and experienced. If you want to improve your time or run further, you need to be patient and build up slowly. For example if I wanted to run 5km and currently run 1km, I should add on 1km every 2 weeks! Any sharp spike in training can lead to a host of injuries, most commonly Achilles tendinopathy (a condition caused by weakness, tightness and excessive unprepared load through the Achilles tendon). So be patient, allow the structures in the body to get used to that extra loading, before you strive for personal bests!
3. Strength and Conditioning
While there is no exact rule, for every hour of running (or any CV exercise), I would advise 20 minutes of strengthening work to prepare the body and prevent injuries. My video will be released shortly with my best strengthening exercises for runners!
Strengthening work creates hypertrophy in the muscles (helps them grow), prepares the nervous system for running, and improves joint stability! Appropriate strengthening work will not reduce your running times or slow you down – this is a myth I hear far too often!!
4. Warm Up and Cool down
The importance of both must not be underestimated! Check out our other blog post giving the best guidance for how to warm up! The cooldown should focus more on static stretches (stretches you hold for 30 seconds). While there are so many variations, important muscles to stretch would be the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. I would also recommend 10 minutes of static stretches for every hour of running.