8 tips to improve your running!

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Written by Jeremy Daniher

1) Strength Training:

It is beneficial to include a strength training program alongside your running training. It has been shown that strength training can increase running economy, muscle power and performance (Beatie, 2014).

Strength training targeting key muscle groups such as gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles can help improve your running and also help reduce your risk of injury. Having stronger muscles improves your ability to distribute load (Barton, 2016).

Try to include at least 1-3 strength training sessions within your weekly training program.

2) Technique:

The way you run could be a contributing factor to your running injuries. For example, landing with your foot too far out in front (overstride), causes increased loading of your hip and knee.

A study by Wilson in 2013 showed a 20% reduction in patella femoral joint (knee cap) reaction forces when changing from a heel strike to a forefoot strike.

Running retraining can be an effective tool in the treatment and prevention of running related injuries. Even subtle changes such as an increase in Cadence (faster steps), can make a significant difference (Barton, 2016).

3) Take Your Time:

As much as we would like to, we aren’t going to become an elite runner overnight. Improvements in running take time and not just weeks, but months.

It is important to aim for workloads that are high enough to improve your fitness and performance, but not too high that they increase your risk of injury (Gabbett et al, 2016).

It is recommended that you increase your training loads by no more than 10% each week. Sudden spikes in load are linked to a significantly increase risk of injury (Gabbett, 2016).

An easy thing to do is monitor the amount of running you do each week. This way, you can build your program appropriately, depending on your goal.

I hope everyone has already started their training for this year’s City2Surf.

4) Cross Training:

Mixing it up can be a good way to prevent injury. Running places specific loads on specific parts of the body.

Getting on the bike, going for a swim, and/or jumping on the rowing machine can be a good way to maintain and build cardiovascular fitness. These activities spread the load in different ways through your body than running does. This can be particularly important when returning from injury but can also be an essential part of your training program.

5) Interval Training:

Changing up your running training can be an effective way to improve your fitness levels and performance. If you do the same run at the same pace over and over, your fitness level won’t continue to improve very much.

Interval training can be good way to boost your performance and involves performing short bursts of high intensity training. It has been shown that this type of high intensity training results in improvements in performance and VO2 max (Garcia-Pinillos, 2017)

For example, instead of doing your same 10km jog, do 10 hill or stair sprints. Or switch up your 30-minute jog for a 1-minute sprint, 1-minute slow jog routine.

6) Foam Rolling:

Foam rolling is commonly used to achieve a massage and stretch effect on muscles and fascia. It is often used as part of a warm up or cool down after training.

Overall there are very few studies about the effects of foam rolling. The studies that are available found that:

  • Foam rolling can temporarily increase the range of motion of the hip, knee and ankle joint without impairing muscle activation or power.
  • Foam rolling can help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.
  • Foam rolling had minimal effect on performance if used in the warm up.
  • Foam rolling had inconclusive effects on anaerobic power or relaxation.

7) Recovery:

After training or a race, your body needs adequate time to recover. Your body is really good at adapting when loads are placed on tissues such as muscles and tendons. This is how you get stronger. If you don’t allow adequate recovery, this is when injuries start to occur and performance drops. (Khan, Scott, 2009)

Recovery times will vary between people depending on your level of fitness, previous injuries and the amount of load you have been putting on your body.

There are lots of different things that may help aid in recovery including icing, stretching, foam rolling and nutrition (Clinical sports medicine).

Consider having rest days as part of your training program to help your body recover.

8) Get Injuries Addressed:

Niggling injuries can significantly affect your training and performance. Getting injuries addressed in a timely manner can improve your outcomes and allow you to get back to training and running quicker. Previous injuries or niggling injuries in one area can lead to issues in other parts of the body. Managing injuries early may help to prevent injuries further down the track.

 

Note that the tips provided are general. You will achieve the best results with an individualised and specific assessment and program.

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