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With Australia’s largest marathon going virtual this year on 5 December, whether it’s training to complete the 5km, 10km, first full or half marathon, CSSM podiatrist and Run Club trainer Alicia Schifferle is here to help you get to the Melbourne Marathon start line injury-free.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
For some of us, the goal is not to complete a marathon but get off the couch and do something they may never have done before.
It seems counterintuitive to suggest, but sometimes the worst thing you can do when starting a running program is to actually go for a run.
Running is high impact. In fact, a typical runner lands with up to three times or more of their body weight. This load puts a lot of pressure on joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Training helps these structures adapt but adaption to training is a slow process and too much load too early can cause injury.
The highest risk of injury generally occurs in the first six weeks of commencing a training program.
Doing some simple cross training can be very useful early in a program. A circuit including some leg strengthening exercises such as calf raises, squats and lunges is a good place to start. Going for a walk rather than a run, and including some stairs in the route can help not only your aerobic performance but also strengthen the load bearing structures and help to keep you injury-free.
Consistent training can protect you from injury – even if you are training more.
Excessive and rapid increases in training loads are likely responsible for a large proportion of soft-tissue injuries. This can happen when you build a training load too quickly at the start of a program or cram in sessions to catch up from lost training days.
When building your training, avoid increasing your training load more than 10 per cent in a weekly training cycle.
TRAIN HARD – RECOVER EVEN HARDER
There is a relationship between high training loads and injury but you can train at a high level for a long time without injury. Getting the balance right of high intensity sessions and easy recovery sessions is important.
It may sound surprising but under-recovery can be more of a problem than overtraining.
If you are training hard – train hard. If you are recovering – recover and take it easy. Avoid spending too much time training in the mid-zone for the best results. The mid-zone is too easy to give you improvement in your performance but is too hard to be a recovery.
A recovery run should be just that – slow, easy and low intensity. Perhaps just go for a walk instead or have an afternoon nap.
Even having multiple recovery days in a row can enhance your training. Many elite athletes work in a 10 day block. Seven to eight days of training followed by a recovery block of two to three days. It is good for your physical as well as mental recovery.
Whether you are planning on running the 5km, or a full marathon, there are small things you can implement into your training that will make a big impact to your running.
There is no right or wrong way to run, however there are some areas that we can focus on to help your body utilise your energy most efficiently, and not waste it on forces/movements that slow you down or make you work harder.
Pick one of the tips below on your next run and see if it makes a difference. Then try another, and eventually you can start to incorporate them all. Don’t forget other important aspects of training such as correct footwear and building and maintaining strength, which enable you to keep your good running form for longer and during faster speeds.
Think about having a line from your toes, through your knees, hips, shoulders and up to your head, and you want to have this line at a slight forward tilt to help your momentum forwards. This will also help your foot-strike (more on this below). Try to keep your gaze about 20-30 metres in front of you with your head not too far forward.
Keep your tummy tucked in and hips facing forwards, and try to avoid excessive rotation through your trunk. Too much rotation counteracts the forward motion and it costs us unnecessary energy to control and stabilise the body. Keep your shoulders relaxed!
Your arms help to propel you forwards, so they should be moving forwards and backwards, not across in front of your body.
CADENCE AND FOOT STRIKE
Cadence, or stride rate is the number of steps you take in one minute. Foot strike is the way the foot lands on the ground. There is no right and wrong way to land on your foot, however, we do encourage to avoid landing with your foot way out in front of your body (over-striding) and landing heavy on your heel. This can act like a bit of a break as your centre of mass is well behind your foot. Over-striding also increases the impact force on your muscles and joints, potentially increasing the risk of injury.
Don’t worry too much about where on your foot you are landing when running, but rather try thinking about having a quicker turnover with each step with your foot landing underneath your body whilst it has already started to move backwards. Keeping that forward tilt as mentioned above and having a higher cadence will help prevent you from heel striking and landing too far out in front of your body. Landing with your foot under your centre of gravity will help enable your forward momentum and minimise vertical displacement. Try to keep your cadence above 165. Your smart watch will measure your cadence for you.
This is often an area forgotten about but is vital for getting enough oxygen into your body for your hard-working muscles to use. Utilising your whole lung capacity will enable more oxygen to get into your blood stream quickly. Think about filling your lungs right down to their bases near the bottom of your ribs, rather than just breathing up around your chest and shoulders (which should be relaxed!).
The CSSM Run Club meets every Tuesday and Friday mornings at 6.30am. Capacity is currently capped at 10. If you’re not a member yet, register here. Once registered, you’ll need to book your FREE Run Club session through Mind Body.
If you would like to have your running style assessed by one of our CSSM Physiotherapist’s or Podiatrist’s please give us a call!
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