This is an editorial written by our Sports Chiropractor, Espen, that was recently published in Cardiff Life Magazine, in the build up to Cardiff Half Marathon.
With Cardiff’s annual half marathon right around the corner thousands of runners are hitting the pavement every day to reserve the eternal bragging rights that come with finishing such a race. Unfortunately, with training, there’s always the risk of injury. So, what can you do to give yourself the best chance of success, avoid injuries and accomplish your goal? Here are a few quick tips to help you stay injury-free.
It sounds obvious, but first and foremost, you must actually begin to train! Sitting inside and complaining about the British weather is not going to accomplish anything but keeping you dry. New runners are more likely to come across training injuries; the only difference between you and a more experienced runner is that their bodies are used to training. Keep in mind one of the golden rules of training – as you start to ramp up mileage, increase it by no more than 10 percent per week. As Greek fabulist Aesop said in The Tortoise And The Hare: “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Next, mix things up. Doing the same circuit every time will soon get boring, and you’ll plateau quicker than you think. Challenge yourself by trying other ways to train: run up a hill, do a few sprints, even add in a weightlifting session. You will become stronger, fitter and more powerful, with the added bonus of reduced injury risk. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from people who have more experience than you – if you’re lucky, you may even gain a new training partner.
Your body doesn’t stop working after you get home from a run – it continues the process of rebuilding and preparing for your next training session. So, make sure you give it the best possible chance of doing just that. People with poor diet habits are actually at a higher risk of injury, and they also tend to heal slower when injured. That said, allow yourself the occasional treat – you’ve earned it!
Lastly, when the body feels too bruised and battered to go through another long training session, don’t be afraid to have a rest day. Your rest days shouldn’t be spent in bed with a bag of crisps, however! Instead, try resting with a twist – go to a yoga class, walk the dog, or even spend time doing household chores. Not only do you stay active, but you will also feel more at ease – and worthy – because you’ve ticked a few boxes off the to-do list.
To sum it all up, make sure you go out and hit the pavement, push yourself, but listen to your body. Remember, running is supposed to be fun, and treating yourself with a rest day or a bit of chocolate now and again isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So, go out and enjoy your run, and if you have any questions or want to learn more about staying injury-free, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified healthcare practitioner.