By Professional Triathlete Mitchell Kibby
As a runner, there are few things more satisfying than floating through your workout in full flight. On the other hand, there are few things more distressing than pulling up lame with yet another setback, leaving you once again staring at the motivational quotes on the wall at your doctor’s office! So, here are four essentials to helping you take the next step…
1. The Plan:
As it is often said, “failing to plan, is planning to fail”. Therefore, it is your responsibility to know your body and how it responds to certain volumes, intensities and terrains. Scheduling is very important in your run program and it is a good idea to allow significant recovery time between those sessions that leave you tired and sore. If you are like me, a hard threshold run is not the best idea the morning after hill repeats and it should not be followed by a long run up the concrete path.
It is inevitable that little niggles will appear from time to time given the impact from running, so how you manage them becomes crucial. Don’t be afraid to substitute some speed work for some slow work to improve your technique and durability!
2. The Help:
We often have advice coming in from every angle with family, coaches, training partners and doctors (and twitter) all weighing in on the best recipes for good health. Although it does pay to listen, you must again take responsibility for making the right choices and following the systems that work for you.
If your taking training seriously, you should be on a first name basis with your massage therapist and you should definitely remember where you put the foam roller. Be an expert in your own body and know exactly where the sore spots will be and how to find the trigger points to fix them. You should develop a checklist of exercises and routines that will help you reset your body after punishing workouts. This may include a yoga class, a regular strength workout and/or some fundamental mobility exercises to keep your posture in line.
3. The Shoe:
Feet are our primary mode of transport, therefore they should be well looked after by our shoes. There is an old saying that “the shoes say a lot about the person”, so it is important to have some pride in what we wear, especially when we consider the impact of running on the body.
The support of modern running shoes will often only last for 500-600kms (or less if you chose that sleek fluoro pair you liked) and that can go pretty quickly if you are booked in for an ironman tattoo. If you are considered an “at risk” runner, the following tests are important for you and your shoes…
- The Sole Test:
Just like the tread of a car tyre, if the grooves on your sole have worn away to flat on your key landing zones, you are no longer getting the support your shoes were designed for. Go shopping!
- The Flexibility Test:
Flexibility is not always a good thing. Test your shoes by bending the front and the back together. If it folds like paper and the two ends touch, you should consider a new pair!
- The Real Test:
How do you pull up after your run? Do you get blisters? Do your toes bruise? Or are you beginning to get sore after every session? Have a think about these things and decide whether the size, style and support of your shoe is right for you…
4. The Action:
At the end of the day, it is not what we know but how we apply it that makes the difference. Our helpers can design the programs, set the exercises and effectively lead us to the water, but it is our responsibility to follow through and avoid an injury. In a sport that requires long-term consistency and persistence, the band-aid approach is not enough to become your best. Many athletes will opt for another round of anti-inflammatory before committing to a proper strength program to repair and maintain the body. These same athletes will then return to the program they set before the injury, and wonder when acute became chronic.
Be discipline enough to change your routine if its not working for you! When combined with the other relevant considerations like sleep, nutrition and lifestyle balance, these four essentials will go a long way to keeping you healthy. So review the plan, get good help, check your shoes and enjoy your running!
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