Up to 85% of endurance runners get injured every year. The reason for this may simply be due to over training or increasing your training load too quickly so you are running tired, resulting in form breakdown. You can help prevent this by being sensible with your training. Try and follow a hard day with a recovery day, which will be a easy or no running. Make sure your easy runs are easy. Too many runners fall into the trap of what i call “beige running”. By that I mean running their recovery runs too fast so they are tired for their faster sessions. Get plenty of rest, eat well and be realistic about how much training you can fit around your life. We are not professional athletes. If you spent a long day driving the kids back from grandmas, is it sensible to squeeze in a long run when you get home? Could it be scheduled for another day? Increase your training load gradually, don’t increase your mileage by over 10% per week and don’t increase mileage and speed work at once.
Strength Work, Drills and Flexibility
For most people, adding some drills, strength work and flexibility into your routine is essential to improve your running form and prevent injury. Many of us have poor posture and strength due to a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. However, we can work on improving our strength and posture by adding some strength and flexibility work into our routine. Additionally, completing some running drills every week goes a long way towards improving your running-specific strength and running form.
Strength work is essential for most of us to prepare our bodies for the action of running. You needn’t go to the gym to get your strength work in. A few body weight routines at home can go a long way. You could fit these in after a run or at another time. I have included links to a couple of routines here but there is loads of stuff on the internet. The most important thing to bear in mind is completing the exercises mindfully and with good form.
- Keep your belly button pulled into your spine and your shoulder blades gently pulled back.
- For planks make sure your shoulders, hips and feet are properly aligned.
- If you can’t manage this, regress the exercise by using a bench for planks or do planks and push ups on your knees.
Pilates can be good to improve your posture and strength and you may find a class locally.
Running drills are like running-specific strength exercises. They work the postural muscles and the neuromuscular co-ordination to improve your running skill. I have included a few links to running drills where i think the person was completing the drills with good form, which is very important. When completing running drills pay attention to how you do them, if you don’t you’re pretty much wasting your time. Think about good posture, be tall but stable. Pull your belly button in and your shoulder blades gently back. Head high and chin level, weight on ball of foot but not the toe. Don’t lean back (a common fault in high knee drills). Start with the basic version of the drill performed standing, perhaps even with a hand on a wall for balance then work on to walking, then running or skipping.
The following films starts with some quite basic drills-
This film is a bit more advanced and the runner is obviously a super athlete!!
Below is a link to a nice article on running mechanics and the Pose Method of Running
We all need to work on our flexibility especially as we get older. Here are is a routine to start with. You may also enjoy yoga to improve your flexibility.
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Written by Anne Rosbottom, UK Athletics Fell Coach in Running fitness