Injury is usually caused by overuse or misuse, poor planning, scheduling and the wrong mindset, here are some tips to help avoid unnecessary setbacks:
- With the world of technology entering into the running world, it is easy to chart your run on apps or GPS watches. Make sure that you don’t increase your weekly distance or longest run by more than 10% per week to avoid overload. You not only need to consider distance (miles/ km) but type of terrain (on road/ off road), intensity (including speed and hills), frequency (number of times per week). If you are not a fan of technology, then use a good old bit of paper (and a pen!).
- Use injury prevention plans to put out the small fires (niggles) before they become a fully blown injury. Foam rolling and strengthening programmes are particularly effective for this, mostly focusing on the leg and hip areas. Getting a good sports massage and physical assessment will also help.
- Listen to your body, you may want to do slightly less on occasions, plans are not set in stone. If you feel fatigue, make sure you are taking a rest day to avoid overtraining.
- Depending on the distances, get the correct nutrition, focus on a balanced diet with plenty of carbs for energy and protein for tissue repair. A window of opportunity to consume carbohydrate is 30 mins after activity to make sure glycogen stores replenish optimally for the next days training.
- Mix it up. You don’t have to run every day (point 1), in fact some low impact exercise such as swimming, water running or cycling will help keep CV fitness without as much impact on joints.
- Set training goals and work at a maximum of a two week sprint. This will build confidence by looking back and seeing your achievements and progress. This will add fire and motivation. Looking any further into the future will build frustration, disappointment and despair.
- Keep hydrated, if you’re thirsty, its too late!
- A training partner can help motivation and commitment. Beware…train at your own pace, getting dragged along will not help you reach your goals!!
- Embrace setbacks, this is part of the process, enjoy them (deal with them as they arise, remember it wouldn’t be as much of a challenge without them).
- Prepare on the day!! Carb loading, mentally see yourself succeeding, imagine each section of the race being completed on your own terms. Enjoy the experience!
James Kirkpatrick, Sports Therapist (MSc), Sports Science (BSc), Lecturer in Sports Injury and Treatment, sports fan and psychological skills coach.