Runner's World (UK)



Powerful tendons can help your running. Here, the RW coach outlines their importance and

shows you how you can strengthen them

TENDONS ARE fibrous strings that attach muscles to bones. They are not simply inert attachment structures – they have elastic properties that add to the ability of a muscle to generate force. The Achilles tendon, for example, is thought to store as much as 34 per cent of the power output from the ankle.

Tendons are mostly made of collagen bundles and these increase in tensile stiffness, density and thickness with training, but reduce in thickness with limited exercise, making them vulnerable to strain. Tendons take time to adapt because they have a slower metabolism and a lesseffici­ent blood supply than a muscle. They take months, not weeks, to develop.

If you are new to running, you need to be aware that repeated tendon stress leads to micro-damage. Tendons may also undergo agerelated changes, meaning they are less able to cope with load as we get older. To avoid this, a gradual build-up of running is required. Also, the specific exercises to improve the quality of the collagen and its ability to cope with force can help.

It is thought that the higher the training load, the greater and faster the tendon change. We know eccentric loading (lengthenin­g while under load) creates higher force than concentric (shortening while under load) or standard resistance training and so it should follow that eccentric training is best. However, the research has not so far provided a definitive answer. Eccentric loading is beneficial, but we cannot say if it is better than concentric or convention­al training. My advice is to mix it up, because running has both eccentric and concentric components to it.

The tendons most at risk in runners are the Achilles; the tibialis posterior, which holds the foot arch up; the anterior shin tendon (tibialis anterior); the hip flexor tendons rectus femoris and sartorius; and the top of the hamstring. What follows is a series of exercises that will help avoid tendon issues if you work them into your training once or twice a week. As with all loading exercises, do not push into pain.

There is some evidence collagen supplement­ation is useful; so is vitamin C and staying well hydrated. Also no more than 5-6 minutes of loading is needed for tendon change, but it will take at least eight weeks of work.


Heel walking with the foot pulled up is effective, though not as easy to do as you might think. Walk on your heels for one minute in between each set of the tibialis posterior foot turn-in exercises (see below).


Free on iOs and Android with in-app purchases,

work out how to

IF YOU’RE FINDING IT HARD TO make the most of that small space between the sofa and the telly, Freeletics can help.

It’s a fitness training programme that puts together 10-30-min workouts using your body weight: jumping jacks, burpees, pistol squats and other moves that make you sick just to think of them. There are over 900 training moves, all with videos. Want to make things a little more personalis­ed? You can upgrade at a cost to get a bespoke coaching and/or nutritiona­l guidance with meal plans, too.


£4.99 on iOS, workoutdoo­

Apple Watch into an

THIS APP TURNS YOUR advanced GPS monitor. It offers all the functional­ity even the most ardent data fan could want – including 26 activity types, multiple and customisab­le data screens, the ability to configure interval workouts and import GPX routes, and vector maps with a visual ‘breadcrumb’ trail to show your route. After your run, the data is uploaded to the companion iPhone app, where you can analyse various metrics. And don’t worry about keeping your Strava feed ticking over, the data can be directly uploaded to it, too.

Weav Run

Free on iOS,

trying to find music NO MORE ROOTING AROUND on your playlist that will sync with your running cadence. Finding music to match your stride is made much simpler with Weav Run, which remixes songs to match your pace. You can either set a desired cadence on the app before your run, if you know you’re going to be aiming for a specific pace, or you can simply hit play and start running, and the app’s canny technology adapts the song in real time without compressin­g it or drawing it out so that the voices are horribly (or comically) distorted.


£8.99 per month, app.runfriendl­

world. Given THIS IS ONE FOR THE POST-LOCKDOWN the chance, most of us would rather spend our commuting time working out than playing Candy Crush. But having nowhere to freshen up makes cardio commutes (and lunch-hour sprints) a problem. RunFriendl­y is a bit like Airbnb for showers. It has a growing database of sites – eg gyms and hotels – where you can shower and clean up, and you can use the map-search function to find the locations that are closest to your office. Best of all, your colleagues will be spared your ‘wild-eyed and red-faced in Lycra’ look.

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