Five Tips to Run Smarter

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Five Tips to Run Smarter

Sidelined again? Shin splints and muscle sprains shouldn’t be a normal part of your running routine – they’re a sign that you’re doing something wrong.

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Fortunately, help is here. Follow these five tips to help stay injury-free and keep your stride.

INCREASE DISTANCE AND SPEED GRADUALLY

Avoid doing too much, too fast. The trick to avoiding this common pitfall is to listen to your body when training.

Your body needs time to adjust to mileage increases. Once you can run one mile, push it to a mile-and-a-half, then two miles, and so on. Follow the same strategy to ramp up your speed and intensity. Start slow, then gradually increase your pace.

If you’re just starting to run, try alternating between three minutes of running and three minutes of walking.

TRAIN IN SHOES THAT FIT

Still running in the same shoes you’ve had since high school gym class? Stretched-out kicks with no cushioning cause bad form and can result in injuries.

Find a running store in your area, and have the staff measure your feet – they can help you find the right pair. They can also help you determine if your foot over-rotates inward (pronation) or outward (supination) when it strikes the ground. Shoe inserts can be an easy fix to support your stride if needed.

Get fitted for new shoes every three to four months. And remember, your feet tend to swell during the day, so it’s best to visit a running store in the afternoon.

WORK ON CORE STRENGTH

Although your abs have nothing to do with your legs, abs help maintain your running form when you start to get tired. A strong core also prevents knee and hip injuries. Try a gut-busting ab workout, take a pilates or yoga class, or get in touch with your inner lumberjack and chop wood for half an hour. Aim for three days of core workouts a week.

LOG YOUR RUNS

Keep a training log. Record your total weekly mileage and note how you feel after your runs. Check for patterns.

You may notice that your shin splints flare up when you log more than 20 miles a week. If that’s the case, aim for 10-15 miles a week and add in an hour of swimming, biking, yoga, pilates, or weights instead.

STAY PATIENT

If you are currently injured, accept the fact that you’ll miss some training time and lose some of your hard-earned fitness. The key is to stay patient and keep your eyes on the prize – a healthy, uninjured you.

If you feel pain while running, take a week-long break and make sure to ice. Start back slowly, and watch for signs of pain.

If you’re wondering if you’re ready to go back, listen to your instincts. Take your time building your mileage back up.

While injuries are disappointing in the short-term, having the wisdom to back off before a long-term injury sets in will keep you healthy, happy, and fit in the long-run.

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