Preventing Running Injuries
Running is a great way to keep in shape and one of the most effective exercises for weight loss. On the other hand, running also has the highest injury rate of any sport with over 50% of runners reporting an injury each year.
But running doesn't have to be a painful experience. Running injuries of all varieties can largely be prevented by following just a few simple rules.
Rule 1. Always wear high-quality shoes that are right for your foot type. The world of running shoes is confusing to most people-even experienced runners. The best way to find a good shoe for your foot type is to visit your local running store. Most of these stores should offer some type of complimentary gait analysis testing that will help you focus your search into shoes that are for overpronators, neutral gaiters, or underpronators.
The selection of your shoe will have a tremendous impact on the strain that your legs undergo during your miles of training. A foot that is not allowed to pronate fully, or that pronates too much, because of poor shoe choice will undoubtedly be at higher risk for injury and will also transmit excessive forces through the legs, which increases injury risk to the ankles, knees, groin, hips, and even the lower back.
Rule 2. Never stretch before you run. Most runners stretch before a run. This may partly explain the high injury rate from running. Muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues are more pliable the warmer they are. Before a run, your muscles aren't "cold", but they are not very pliable either. A much better alternative than a pre-run stretch is to begin your run with 5 minutes of walking or easy jogging.
Then, you can increase the speed and run at your normal pace. By starting slowly, you gradually increase the temperature of your muscles without exposing them to excessive stretching force. Following the run is actually the best time to stretch since your muscles are at peak temperature and, therefore, at peak flexibility.
Rule 3. Increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10%. A common mistake made by runners of all abilities is doing too much, too fast. Increasing your mileage from 20 to 25 to 30 miles a week doesn't seem excessive at first glance. However, several clinical studies have determined that runners who increase weekly mileage by more than 10% each week are at increased injury risk. The examples above are on the order of 20-25% per week.
A better approach is to increase from 20 to 22 to 24 to 26 to 29 and so on. Sure, it takes longer to build up the weekly mileage, but you also stand a much better chance of being able to run continuously throughout the year instead of ramping up quickly and then letting an injury abruptly interfere with your training for days, weeks, or even months.
Rule 4. Strengthen your leg muscles. Sure, running strengthens your leg muscles-but not all of them. Running makes the muscles on the back of your leg stronger such as the buttocks, hamstrings, and calves. However, the muscles on the front of the leg are generally neglected like the groin, quadriceps, and shins.
The muscles on the sides of your legs such as the peroneals and the iliotibial band that help to stabilize your joints on impact are also generally weak. It is imperative then that runners do strengthening exercises for these muscles to ward off overuse injuries.
Rule 5. Take periodic breaks from training. Regular running causes microscopic tears in the muscles and connective tissue. At first, these tears are unnoticeable. But with continued frequent running, these tears can progress to painful strains, which can take several weeks to recover from. A good rule of thumb is to back off from your normal training volume by 50% every fourth week.
For example, if your average weekly mileage over three weeks is 30 miles, run only 15 miles the next week. This cycle should be repeated every month. These regular breaks will prevent injury and help prevent chronic fatigue from overtraining.
Rule 6. Consume a diet that is proper for a running athlete. While the calories expended during running may afford you a pizza or some french fries, junk and fast foods do not provide you with the essential nutrients to build muscle and keep connective tissue strong and nutrified. A healthy diet should concentrate on lean protiens, plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Some may depend on dietary supplements for extra nutrition. However, the jury is in that whole foods rich in natural vitamins are key.
Muscle Cramps - How to Prevent Muscle Cramps
The feeling of pain is something that most of us want to avoid. It’s uncomfortable and it hinders the things that we want to do. However, pain can also be a sign of a greater issue at hand. In terms of muscle cramps, it might not just be a ‘charlie horse.’ Muscle cramps can sometimes signal that you have other issues going on.
What is a muscle cramp and why does it happen? Muscles cramps are the involuntary contraction of a muscle in your body – meaning that you didn’t cause the muscle to contract. There are a number of reasons why a muscle might cramp as well as number of reasons that are unknown.
Some of the more common reasons for muscle cramps are strains and sprains of the muscles and ligaments. When you injure yourself by overextending a muscle or a part of your body, the muscle can become too stretched out and will overcompensate by cramping.
Drink Plenty of Fluids to Prevent Cramps Other muscle cramps are caused by an imbalance of nutrition in the muscles themselves. People who do not drink enough fluids or drink too much fluid during a workout session can get muscle cramps. In the muscles, there is a delicate balance of water and electrolytes.
When the muscle is dehydrated, it will cramp from having too many electrolytes in it; while the muscle that has too much water in it will also cramp because of the lack of electrolytes. Muscle cramps are some of the warning signs for dehydration as well as for hyponatremia (too little salt/electrolytes).
Another cause of muscle cramps can be the build up of lactic acid in the muscles. If you’re pushing yourself too hard during a workout, your body isn’t able to burn off all of the lactate that it is producing and lactic acid forms, causing that burning sensation in your legs. And that sensation can sometimes lead to a feeling of muscle cramps after a workout.
Tips for preventing muscle cramps There are many ways to reduce your chances of muscles cramps. First of all, you will want to always keep yourself fully hydrated during a workout. For workouts of shorter than an hour, water is just fine.
Drink a few sips whenever you feel it is necessary and you should be fine. For longer workouts, you will want to drink a sports drink that has been watered down. Because you are working out harder, you need more than just water to maintain the proper balance of electrolytes in your body.
Another way to prevent muscle cramps is to make sure that you are training consistently. Your body will build up a resistance to muscle cramps if it is used to the exercises that it is doing. It’s when you push too hard or try something that you haven’t trained on that leads to muscle cramps.
Potassium can help prevent cramps You can also increase your intake of potassium to help prevent muscle cramps. Things like bananas are great sources of potassium and can help you stay cramp free. However, using potassium supplements is not advised as your potassium balance can be easily upset and cause problems.
- Are you an Ironman athlete racing a half or two in route to your A-race of the season?
- Are you a half Ironman athlete looking to maximize your race day potential?
- Are you stepping up to the Half Ironman distance after having focused on sprint and Olympic distance triathlon?
Mistake #1: Getting Overwhelmed by Endurance Training Lingo.
The Half Iron distance isn’t a walk in the park by any means, but it certainly doesn’t require that you buy a Thesaurus for your training plan. Aerobic, anaerobic, lactate threshold, aerobic threshold, ventilatory threshold…the list goes on. Your training only has be as complicated as you make it…and we suggest you keep it simple. Your fitness is nothing more than the ability of your body to perform work: to swim at pace X, pedal a bike at speed Y, or run at pace Z. Focus on the WORK, do progressively more of it, and the fitness will follow.
Mistake #2: Making Training Overly Complicated.
Swim. Bike. Run. Eat. Sleep. At least that’s what the t-shirts say. So why do so many triathletes spend their time concocting unique brick (bike + run) workouts; trying out the latest gadgets (fist gloves anyone?), and swamping their lives with countless hours of training? Your guess is as good as ours.
It doesn’t have to be that complicated. Create a training week where Monday works with Tuesday works with Wednesday, etc. A week that fits within your personal / professional / social framework, a schedule that you can execute easily week after week. Then manage the details of each individual workout, letting training volume take care of itself.
Mistake #3: Using a Half Ironman as an Ironman Prequisite or Race Rehearsal.
We’re behind the finish lines of every US Ironman, every year, catching our athletes. We have yet to see a WTC official checking to see that IM finishers have had their tickets punched at the HIM distance. The fact is you do NOT need to complete an HIM before your Ironman, and an HIM is very poor race rehearsal for a full Ironman race.
Mistake #4: Bringing an Ironman nutrition plan to a Half Ironman.
The Half Iron distance is just long enough that you need a nutrition plan, but short enough that using the traditional Ironman fueling strategy can be a recipe for disaster. After all, the race plays out differently: your swim is only half as long, you bike with significantly more intensity, and your run is entirely different. They don’t hand out medals for calories consumed per hour…we know from experience!
Mistake #5: Pushing Your Physical Limits Before the Run.
The 70.3 distance is a great event to test y0ur fitness, but execution still rules the day. Lining up a strategy that mimics a Sprint or Olympic-level effort will leave you far short of T2 with the prospect of a cramp-filled, sufferfest of a run. Learning how to pace the swim and bike will prepare you to run closer to your true potential and dramatically improve your finishing position.
Check out this video on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtcpVORPpSo&feature=youtube_gdata_player