Coach House Sports Physio Clinic running tips
Bronwen Owen from our official physio partners; Coach House Sports Physio Clinic has very kindly shared her insight into both the physical and mental benefits of running below...
Running is one of the most natural forms of exercise that we can do. It has a positive impact on both our physical and mental health. Physically, amongst other things, running improves our cardiovascular system, muscular strength, and bone density. Getting out of the door - even for a 15 minute jog - when struggling mentally, or lacking in motivation, acts as a stress relief and does wonders for our self-esteem and energy levels. Even in terms of practicality, going on a run is time efficient, can be done anywhere, and requires minimal equipment. Plus, with the large number of clubs, and so many people taking part in running, it is a great way to socialise and meet new people too.
Based on the list of benefits above, it’s easy to find a reason to pick up running. However, many people quit, or pick up an injury in the early stages. How do we find a way to keep up running consistently over the long term without losing motivation or becoming injured?
Let’s start with why we might be put off. There are a couple of reasons as to why people might be put off running initially. Firstly, if you’ve never run consistently before, even an ‘easy’ run can feel hard. It can be a lot to build yourself up for when you’re tired from work and fancy curling up on the sofa with a brew instead (you can do that after!). Often, this is because people try to run their easy runs too fast, making it feel a lot harder than it should. Start slowly and make sure it doesn’t feel like a sprint - even if you have to walk for a couple of minutes to catch your breath before starting again. Eventually you’ll have the fitness to go faster whilst still keeping it easy. Just be patient!
Or, maybe you feel like running isn’t for someone like you? Sometimes starting something new can be daunting, or make you question if you’re meant to be doing it. You might picture a ‘runner’ as someone who wins the London Marathon, but, in reality, anyone can run, regardless of age, fitness level, goals, and lifestyle.
If you have decided that running would be a good option for you, it is important to factor in what habits will enable you to keep it up long term. These will aid injury prevention, as well as helping to retain motivation levels, and avoid fatigue or burnout.
Here are some top tips to bear in mind:
● Don’t do too much too soon. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but leaving room for gradual progression is a great way to reduce injury risk and burnout. You can do this by using the FIT principle - frequency (of runs/exercise); intensity; time/duration. Start by increasing frequency and duration before adding in some higher intensity. Try to stick to adding no more than 10% volume per week.
● Choose good quality footwear. Find footwear to suit your needs i.e. are you a heel striker, do you run for short or long distances? You can research this online or nip into your local Up and Running shop, where an expert can help you to find what you’re looking for. Look to replace your trainers every 300-500 miles.
● Listen to your body. It might be a cliche, but listening to your body is one of the most important things you can do to put yourself in a position to exercise consistently. Learn to notice if you’re more tired than usual, or have picked up a niggle. It might mean having an extra rest day, or cross training for a week, but this will allow for quicker recovery so you can train more consistently long term.
● Cross train. Depending on how much exercise you are looking to do, you can supplement your runs with cross training. This will increase your fitness without adding any extra impact to your body. If you are experiencing an injury and would like
to cross train to maintain fitness, always make sure to check with a physio if this is safe for you to do.
● Speak to a coach or physiotherapist, who can help you to incorporate run drills and/or S&C. Some good examples would be A skips, walking lunges, step ups and lateral hops. This can all be done from home if you don’t have access to a gym. It’s also good to activate muscles and do a light warm up before going on a run - even if it’s low intensity.
● Consider having an MOT with a physiotherapist. This will help to highlight any weaknesses to work on to reduce injury risk. Prevention is better than cure!
● Wear appropriate clothing. It’s been pretty chilly recently so make sure to wrap up and keep your muscles warm!
● Hydrate and eat well. As you build up your exercise routine, you’ll naturally be burning more calories and losing more water and electrolytes through sweat. Your body requires energy to exercise, work, and live well - so always replace these lost calories and liquid to fuel your body well, even if your appetite hasn’t increased.
● Incorporate rest into your routine. This is where your body will get the chance to recover and adapt. You also deserve to switch off!
● Keep things interesting by mixing up what you do. Run off road; meet a friend to train with; or try a different route.
● Safety first. If running at night, or somewhere you feel uncomfortable, make sure to run where it is well lit, or with a friend. Some apps now have location settings on them so a friend or family member will be able to track your location if that makes you feel more at ease.
● Injuries are common so don’t panic if you do feel pain - just remember to stop asap and not run through it as this will reduce your recovery time. Sometimes you can do everything right and still pick up an injury or an illness.
All of this information might seem a little overwhelming, but will become second nature when put into practice! See how you go with these tips - if you’re unsure and need some guidance, there are plenty of people with experience to help you get started and have confidence in what you’re doing - it’s what they’re there for.
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