Is running on your list of New Year resolutions? Have you got a running plan in place for getting started and remaining injury-free?
If not or you just want some extra tips from our running physio Tully then we’ve got you covered!
We know that most running injuries occur when the training load exceeds the capacity of the tissues in the body to cope. Over time the tissue starts to break down instead of getting stronger and those niggles become injuries that zap the fun from running and kill your performance.
But there is a solution. So if you are struggling with those niggles, or have hit that plateau then keep reading, as it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of knowledge of what is causing it and a few tweaks to your training, you can run pain-free and faster than ever before.
Most runners think that they can simply run through it, that they can push through the pain and get stronger by just running more. This nearly always leads to an injury that puts you out of action.
However, understanding more about TRAINING LOADS can make the difference between pain or glory.
First of all, I’d like to define a few key terms that I’ll use in this blog, they’ll help to make sense of what makes up your ‘running load’. If you use these terms in front of your running friends, you’ll sound like an elite marathon runner!
Running Load: the total sum of the forces applied to your body while running. This needs to take EVERYTHING into account.
Volume: the total amount of running (in kilometres) that you run each week. Also referred to as your ‘weekly mileage’.
Intensity: your effort when running. There are three types (easy, moderate, hard).
Frequency: how often you run each week. This may be 1 x week, or even 5-6 x week.
Type: the style of your designated run. For example, this may be a long run, an easy run, an interval run, or a hill run.
Rest/Recovery: the time your body needs to heal and adapt from all the running you are doing. This may be an active process (stretching/foam rolling) or a passive process (simply resting).
Now, why is this all so important? I’ll simplify it as much as I can. Running load is the biggest factor when predicting your injury risk! But also, the hardest to define.
It is the combination of your running volume, intensity, frequency and type. When I see runners, the first thing I will do with them is to discuss their running load over the last 2-6 months. Let’s have a look at two runners, and then we can identify what went wrong and why!
This runner had recently started running and had decided to start doing a ½ marathon program 5 weeks ago. They thought it would be good to do a couple of short runs before starting.
As you can see, from week 5, they increased their weekly km’s to ~23km/week. They were able to sustain this for 3-4 weeks but at 9 weeks they sustained an injury which led to a dramatic decrease in running distance, only able to complete 2-3kms/week due to their injury.
- (Note the vertical axis is how many kms per week the runner was doing, and the horizontal axis is each week for the last 12 weeks).
This runner had been running ~5kms/week from 12 weeks ago. Their goal was to also run a ½ marathon, but instead had looked at the kms/week for the start of a half marathon program and decided to build to that.
There are no sudden changes in weekly km’s and are able to increase their weekly km’s. This runner sustained no injuries over the last 12 weeks.
Both runners completed 110km over the last 12 weeks, but only Runner 2 was able to continue running injury-free. Errors in running load are the biggest cause of running-related injuries! Here we have looked at training volume, but when considering running load we need to think of the type, frequency and the intensity at which we run. This is often a hard thing to do as a novice runner! And can be an especially hard process to build your running back up after an injury.
The example of Runner 1 is a common mistake to make! Building back to distances of ½ marathons is a tricky but possible process in the presence of an injury, and resting for a period of a few weeks then returning to running won’t fix the problem. With overuse injuries, resting then returning to running will make the problem worse. The injury will need diagnosis and treatment before building your running back up safely.
This information should make you more aware of what may be causing your running injury, as it isn’t always due to your running technique or shoes! There are countless factors that can contribute to your running load and injury risk. if you are just starting and you have not run into any problems yet, then make sure that you take running load into consideration by planning your runs and recovery.
The great news is that, to us here at Premier Sports Medicine, it’s quite easy for us to identify what is holding runners back from performing better.
Firstly, we are runners ourselves, competing in half marathons, full marathons, and triathlons.
Secondly, we help people like you all day every day identify what is going wrong. What is causing them niggles, injuries, or frustration and not getting better. We help them run faster and run pain-free, and we love it!
Want some extra support for planning your running training or have an injury that’s holding you back book a time with Tully our in house running physio!
Call 9481 7794 or BOOK HERE.