Distance running can be a fun way to challenge yourself, improve your fitness or relieve stress. It can also be the cause of injuries if training is not completed correctly. With further distances, it becomes more and more important to look after your body and ensure you stay fit and healthy for the next run. Below are 5 quick tips to keep those legs ticking over.
1. Always warm-up
Warming up well will not only reduce soreness during your run and reduce your risk of injury, but also improve your performance. It allows time for your muscles, cardiovascular and energy symptoms to prepare for the training ahead. A good warm-up includes activation, stability, and mobility-based exercises as well as gently increasing your heart rate ready to get stuck into the session.
2. Set a realistic pace and stick to it
Most successful long-distance runners keep a consistent pace for the entire event. This is difficult to do and takes physical and mental training to become good at. Try and run at a pace you can maintain for the entire run rather than burning out early and needing to slow down towards the end. It is crucial to find this pace early in your training so play around with different speeds and see what works for you
3. Allow sufficient recovery time between runs
The body needs time to recover and refuel after any physical activity, especially after demanding tasks such as long runs or hill work. After tough sessions allow at least a day’s rest from the same activity. Consider spending the next day cross-training with swimming in the pool or completing some strength work rather than another run.
4. Ensure adequate hydration, nutrition, and sleep
So important for endurance events which deplete the body of its energy stores and fluids, refueling with a good diet and plenty of H2O, along with some extra sleep, is the key to an efficient recovery between long runs.
5. Include strength training in your program
Often under-utilised in running training are the benefits of completing specific strengthening exercises to get those legs strong and ready to carry you the distance. Strength training improves running efficiency and speed, and also the ability to maintain good technique. It also reduces your risk of injury (win-win). Exercises include squats, deadlifts and calf raises to name a few. Strength training is best if it is completed in the days after long/tough runs, rather than the days before so that you aren’t left with heavy legs during the more difficult runs.
With many long-distance events on the horizon coming out of winter, including the Melbourne Marathon, getting on top of niggles early will also help prevent them from becoming more limiting injuries. A physiotherapist can help you get over the line fit and healthy as well as improve your performance on the day.
Written by: Brendan Young – Physiotherapist who enjoys marathons in his spare time
Langwarrin Sports Medicine Group
PH: 03 9789 1233