So how are those New Year resolutions going? By the end of February lots of us have been derailed. If that’s you, you might be tempted to use the Sun Run as your path back to righteousness. The Sun Run is now a wonderful annual fixture in Vancouver, attracting over 50,000 every year, many of whom are new to running as a form of exercise. I thought some posts dedicated to keeping participants healthy, happy and especially injury free would be appropriate as this is the time of year we start to have people coming in to the clinic with Sun Run training related injuries. There is a lot of great information provided in the general running media about how to train to stay safe and injury free. In fairness to all those contributors, I’d have to say that barring slips and falls, most of the injuries we see occur because beginning runners continue to make a few crucial errors in how they approach their running training.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the most common faults we see.
Progressing too quickly. You simply have to start and progress slowly. While a cardiovascular system can change in a matter of weeks, the muscles, tendons, joints and bones take a much longer time to change and as a result are vulnerable. Don’t start running until you can walk at a brisk pace for 60 minutes and then begin a Run Walk program. There are many versions which all follow a theme of manageable, steady progress. I’ve provided a version of the SportsMed BC Run Walk program in our library which you are welcome to download and print. Find it here http://www.west4thphysio.com/resources/library/
And fact or fiction – you should feel sore and achy after you run? Totally fiction. Your level of effort as a beginner should be sustainable, enjoyable and not leave you sore the next day. Training at too much intensity feels horrible and just leads you down the road to injury. You want to finish your run happy and looking forward to your next effort a couple of days later.
Not being consistent Remember to think of physical activity as medicine for your body and medicine should be taken on time and in the right dose. Try not to skip days in your training and if you do have to miss a day or two, perhaps because of illness or travel, definitely do not compensate by doubling up your effort at the next session. Training consistently gives your body time to adapt to the stresses you are placing upon it, making small changes so that if a similar stress occurs in the near future (like a couple of days later at your next run) you are physically changed and better equipped to handle it. That’s how the snowball of progressive training works, gradually taking you further with what seems like less effort.
Have some rest Having your body make the adaptive changes mentioned above takes time and energy. Your body actually breaks down a little before it rebuilds. This is the purpose of your no-run days and it is important to intersperse them through the week. It makes no sense to run 3 days in a row and then take 4 days off. Think of your rest days as when you are physically responding to your running days and preparing to more easily handle your next session.
As you progress in you running enjoyment you may decide to go beyond the Sun Run (or it’s equvalent) and become a more serious runner. Over the next few posts I will look at different aspects of running, footwear, and injury prevention strategies to help you manage that great transition. If you have a specific request you can email me at email@example.com and I will do my best to reply in short order. In the meantime, keep on running!