3 Mistakes You’re Likely Making Training For Running

#1 Poor Run Programming

The majority of running injuries are caused by training errors. When working with runners, I often find that my clients often do not have a program, or are using a training schedule that may be too advanced for where they are on their running journey. Each run puts a specific load on your body. If you don’t have the capacity to handle said load, then your injury risk is high. Generally, the load of running is higher than your capacity when you are just picking up running, or are running more intensely than usual. Between these two areas, is what we call the ‘sweet spot’. The ‘sweet spot’ is where your injury risk is lowest, and is the zone which should encompass the majority of your training. Below is a graph designed by Tim Gabbett, which provides a visual explanation of this ‘sweet spot’ or ‘low injury zone’.

Gabbett, T., 2016. The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder?.British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(5), pp.273-280.

Although this graph looks very simple, quantifying load is much more complex. Load is a combination of extrinsic (running pace, distance, intensity, etc) and intrinsic (mood, stress, mental/nervous strain, etc.). Therefore, I often use a combination of an objective (heart rate) and subjective (perceived difficulty/10) measure to quantify the load of my run. For example, if my average heart rate is 140 beats per minute, but I perceived that run as a 9/10, then it’s probably likely the strain on my body is higher than what my heart rate suggests. To keep it simple, if you have an intense session, simply balance it out by running a very light session, to ensure that you balance out the spikes in load. Load management is a topic that we can spend hours speaking on, therefore if I’ve peaked your interest, feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to get into more depth.

#2 Running Through Pain

Running should not be painful. Pain is a signal that your body is sending, when it perceives danger. It is usually the precursor to a long term overuse injury, and should not be ignored. The toll running can take on your body is very high, so if you truly want to avoid significant injuries, do not run through pain. Instead, assess your training program, or seek out professional advice to get to the root cause of your issue. More often than not, it is a simple fix, and can prevent you from sustaining a long term injury.

#3 Simply Not Strong Enough

Whilst stronger legs may not make you faster, they will almost certainly make you a more efficient runner. From my experience, I have always felt the best in the last 5-10km of my race, when I have been strength training regularly during my training program. I highly recommend that you include 1-2 days of strength training into your weekly schedule, to ensure that your hips,knees, and ankles are strong enough to absorb the significant load of running. My strength programs are often built around the following 5 foundational exercises:

  1. Squat
  2. Lunge
  3. RDL
  4. Calf Raises
  5. Glute Bridge/Hip Thrust

Try and incorporate as much unilateral/single leg work as possible, as running requires a lot of unilateral stability.

For the purpose of this blog, I’ve simplified the topics above. If you want to go into more depth, or are curious about some of the things I’ve stated, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me in the gym or book an appointment.

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