One of the main reasons for runners presenting in my sports injury clinic is due to training error, this is linked to one of two factors, overuse and misuse.  The body is a very resilient, adaptable and robust structure and has many factors (physical, mental, hormonal, nutritional etc.) involved when adapting to load placed upon it during activities like running. Either being too enthusiastic and running without appropriate rest, or increasing distance too soon are often the reason for developing an injury. Sometimes this increase in load can be difficult to spot, so watch out for increasing elevation profiles on similar distances, changing running surface or speed. Your weekly mileage may remain similar but another variable can contribute to overload, keep vigilant for this. You can monitor this in a diary or on a GPS watch. 

A good starting point is to determine your own skills and starting place e.g. current fitness, running technique, experience, muscular strength, time for training etc. If you look to the 280km challenge (assuming you are not used to running these distances of brutal terrain) and work backwards, you may feel overwhelmed and lose confidence. Start from the here and now, and work to where you need to be, this is best written down in a list to chart your progress, build confidence and commitment.  Write anything you can on the list that could be a factor in helping you (current strengths) and address any potential barriers (limitations, current physical condition etc.) such as time. 

Here are some tips to help manage your initial programme:

  • Get into a good sleep pattern, aim for 7 hours per night, evidence suggests that poor sleep is a risk factor for developing an injury. 
  • Make a plan and write it down so the challenge does not become stressful, start with where you are, make sure you are realistic with your capabilities and the time you have to commit to training. 
  • Be vigilant for spikes in load as these can increase the chances of injury, this will allow your body to adapt to the demands placed upon it. 
  • Train on similar terrain and elevation to the Azores (this could be difficult depending on where you live), but you need to get your body used to the brutal elevation but do this incrementally. 
  • Make a note of the energy expenditure through training, make sure you replenish these calories to avoid fatigue by using a balanced diet and Tribe recovery shakes and bars along the way. 

James Kirkpatrick, Sports Science BSc, Sports Therapist MSc, Lecturer and keen trail runner. http://www.the-recovery-room.co.uk/. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me