When one season ends and another begins changes start to occur, anything from your hair style to your fitness routine. In this case, when the weather gets better everyone tends to up their running goals.
However, making changes too quickly without thought and preparation can lead to injuries or quick burn out. To prevent running injuries here as some important tips:
CHECK YOUR SHOES: Over time, your running shoes lose shock absorption, cushioning and stability. When you run in worn-out shoes, it increases the stress and impact on your legs and joints, which can cause overuse injuries. A good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles, depending on your running style, body weight, and the surface on which you run.
CHECK YOUR GAIT CYCLE: The gait cycle is the way we walk and run. It is divided up into the stance phase, where the foot is in contact with the ground, and the swing phase where the leg is swinging forward to take the next step. When you get your gait cycle checked, experts are identifying muscle imbalances which can be corrected with specific strengthening and stretching exercises. In addition, experts may suggest suitable running shoes for your gait cycle.
TRAIN SMART: Increase your weekly running mileage and distance slowly and never increase your weekly mileage and the intensity of your workouts at the same time.
– Don’t increase your running mileage every week. Run the same mileage for two to four weeks (depending on your goals and starting point) before increasing it. Give your legs a chance to fully absorb and adapt to the workload.
– Don’t increase the distance of your long run every week. This is especially important if you’re entering uncharted territory with your long runs (i.e. you’ve never run that distance before). Repeat the same long run for a few weeks before running longer.
WARM UP: Perform DYNAMIC warm up exercises (not holding stretches) before a run and for particularly tight muscles include myofascial release, such as foam rolling or using a trigger point massage stick. A good warmup dilates the blood vessels leading to your leg muscles, ensuring that they’re well supplied with oxygen, and increases the muscles’ temperature to the optimal level for flexibility, efficiency and powerful contraction. By gradually raising your heart rate, the warmup also helps minimize stress on your heart during the early stages of a race.
COOL DOWN: Perform holding stretches (anywhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes each stretch) after a run that stretches the major muscle groups. Major muscles for runners are: quardriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh), glutes (bum), calves (lower back of leg), back and core. And make sure you don’t sit in your wet sweaty clothes too long as that could lead to catching a cold.
REPLENISH YOUR MUSCLES: If it was a very intense or draining run then more attention needs to be paid to recovery. A good healthy mix of protein, some carbs, and some fats is the way forward after your run and to be safe within the 30 minutes after completing your run as that’s when muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen stores. My favorite recovery meal is a vegan protein berry shake with a teaspoon of tart cherry juice which is especially good at night as it has natural serotonin. Plus water all day long and a magnesium bath!