Train­ing Zone

In­jury Pre­ven­tion, Sim­pli­fied

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS - By Lau­ren Roberts Lau­ren Roberts is a phys­io­ther­a­pist in Toronto. Visit therun­ning­physio.ca

As a phys­io­ther­a­pist, I see a lot of in­jured peo­ple. Es­pe­cially with run­ners, it can seem at times like no one save for the oc­ca­sional mu­tant hu­man is im­mune to the high-im­pact, repet­i­tive na­ture of run­ning. Despite hav­ing shoes made of the light­est ma­te­ri­als, strength train­ing videos avail­able at our fin­ger­tips and enough per­for­mance sup­ple­ments to sink a ship in our kitchens, each week brings me a fresh crew of run­ners with run­ning-re­lated in­juries. So what’s go­ing on?

Here’s the thing: it ac­tu­ally isn’t that hard or com­pli­cated. It’s not about how much you weigh or how much pro­tein you’re eat­ing. Dis­tance run­ning is about train­ing the hu­man body to do the same thing over and over again for a very long time, and there is no way around that fact. How­ever, we are able to con­trol how of­ten, how long and how hard we run.

Track­ing your weekly mileage is the eas­i­est and sim­plest way to avoid run­ning-re­lated in­juries. Con­sider the way our mus­cles, lig­a­ments and ten­dons work. At birth, we’re soft and mal­leable, ready to adapt to our new sur­round­ings. As we age, the stresses of life shape the way we look and how we move. Each day the ef­fect be­comes cu­mu­la­tive. And we be­come bet­ter equipped to do more of that thing.

About dou­ble our body weight in force goes through each leg with each foot-strike. While there are ben­e­fits to be­ing strong and ef­fi­cient, what mat­ters most is hav­ing a sense for how much of this par­tic­u­lar stress your body is presently primed for based on ap­prox­i­mately your last four weeks of train­ing. We must slowly pre­pare the body to go far­ther, longer and faster. Pa­tience is a run­ner’s best friend. If you’ve been run­ning on a f lat indoor track for the last few months, it’s not a good idea to do six steep hill sprints with your run­ning group on a Wed­nes­day night at top speed. We are dy­namic, adapt­able crea­tures who op­er­ate purely on the “use it or lose it” prin­ci­ple. The same prin­ci­ples ap­ply to peo­ple run­ning longer dis­tances faster and more com­pet­i­tively – push­ing speed too much over a cou­ple of weeks or even a slight change in footwear over 100+ k per week can lead to trou­ble.

While the hills ex­am­ple is quite ob­vi­ous, more of­ten in­jury devel­op­ment comes along more sub­tly. Gen­er­ally, do not in­crease your weekly mileage more than 10 per cent per week. gps tech­nol­ogy has made record­ing this vari­able quite easy. If you don’t have a gps watch, it’s also fine to go by time – even if you’re just writ­ing down each run on a scrap of pa­per and stick­ing it to your fridge.

At the end of the day, lis­ten to your body. Take rest days when you need them, and push harder if you feel strong. Keep buy­ing your light­weight shoes, do­ing strength train­ing and sup­ple­ment­ing, but don’t make run­ning any more com­pli­cated than it has to be.

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