Article by the Drummond Team
With January over, the runners amongst us are busily preparing for their own event (Reading Half Marathon, London Marathon, even your local Park Run!……) And we must not forget the huge number of triathletes that as well as running, have the joy of adding a swim and bike into the training plan. All of us that compete though have the same goal……. to finish.
And so in a bid to help any athlete working towards these goals, we’ve put together the following top tips to help you on your way.
(Note: It’s is worth pointing out that the information given below is for general event preparation. We would strongly advise against making any drastic changes within 4-6 weeks of an event. So if you see something below that you think could help you in your training, but you are racing within 4-6 weeks, wait until after the event before proceeding)
First and foremost, you wouldn’t expect to achieve a task successfully without first acquiring all the right tools. For running, this would mean looking at your footwear and clothing.
Nowadays, running shoes come in all shape, sizes, colours and prescription. The prescription of your running shoes is probably the most important factor to consider… and yet is often the most overlooked. When was the last time that you had your trainer prescription checked? Have you ever? The wrong choice of trainers can actually cause more problems than you might suspect – blisters, foot pain, joint pain in your ankles, knees, pelvis or back and shin splints, to name but a few.
Another important consideration for your trainers is their age. A typical rule of thumb is that a pair of running shoes will last for around 12 months or 500 miles, whichever happens first.
Do feet come as a pair? Not always, actually. Think about your eyes, there’s two of them certainly, but they are rarely identical. If you wear glasses you will typically have a different prescription for each eye. Feet can be the same. The body is rarely symetrical and differences between your left and right sides may mean that your feet have to perform differently in their role as a foundational support for your body. If this is the case, then a standard pair of shoes may not help to promote the symmetry required to cope with the constant and highly repetitive nature of running.
In such a situation you may benefit from a custom-made orthotic to help create a more stable platform from which your foundation (ie: your feet) are more appropriately able to control the foot, leg, hip or back etc. And then similar to making sure you have the correct footwear, an orthoses (or footbed) could help reduce the risk for potential injury as the miles start to mount up.
Aside from the usual shorts and t-shirt routine, some runners like to get a little more technical with their clothing. This can be as simple as making sure they have water/wind proofs to help cut out the cold, wet weather (that our good ole British summer often provides). Making sure you keep the cold, wet weather at bay may also help reduce the risk for developing a cold or bug, as we might become more susceptible if we find that we are running our bodies down when adding lots of additional activities to an already busy daily work life schedule.
The use of compression clothing to help keep muscles warm, offer some proprioceptive feedback (muscle focus and awareness) and aid recovery between your runs, can often be invaluable in helping to reduce fatigue, minimise injury and promoting improved circulation and heightened agility.
It’s suggested that if you are only 2% dehydrated, your physical performance could be impaired by as much as 20%.
The difference in achieving a good or bad time / performance might be associated with whether you are adequately hydrated. Consequently, it is very important that you hydrate sufficiently prior to any event, as well as during any event itself. The warmer the weather on the day of your event, the more important this factor becomes.
Whilst some athletes may not necessarily be concerned with their performance (sometimes it is the taking part that counts), any suggestion that you may be at an increased risk of injury because of a lower performance, should be enough to convince all levels of athletes to understand the importance of proper hydration at all times.
Many sports drinks contain varying ingredients to assist the overall hydration (and recovery) process, and the range is huge. It is therefore suggested that you trial these drinks prior to an event (such as during a training run) to determine which you prefer and which work best for you. The last thing you want is to take something new on race day and find that your body rejects your chosen brand or flavour.
As with hydration, we must make sure we correctly fuel the body with enough energy to cope with the demands of the event. Taking time to trial which foods or energy supplements your body responds well to is of equal importance to any event preparation. Some events give out free energy supplements, don’t take it for granted that these will work for you or agree with you, you must try them on a training day, and if they don’t work then take your own.
This aspect of race preparation is as important as making sure you fill your car with enough of the correct fuel. Equally, if you’re looking to use running (or any physical activity) as a weight management tool, you may also find this information helpful.
As your training loads increase training runs lengthen, the benefits of deep tissue massage (sports massage) as an aid to helping your soft tissues (ie: muscles, tendons, ligaments), neural (nerve) and lymphatic (glandular) components work to the best of their ability. This is not just from a pure injury prevention perspective, but also to help flush toxins and excess lactic acid from the system and generally aid recovery between your running sessions, activities and events.
Whether you are an athlete or you usually lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, regular deep tissue massage can often help alleviate muscular aches and tensions that can often be attributed to sitting at our desks, or driving for extended periods, week in and week out. Equally, if you have a physical job or activity which requires lots of lifting etc, you may also find that deep tissue / sports massage can help reduce the constant overload to your body and therefore help reduce the impact that any additional physical activity such as running, golf, football etc may impose on some already tight or tired soft tissues.
Rest & Recuperation
Finally, we must not forget to rest!
Adequate and appropriate rest between training sessions or events will allow time for the body to adapt to any new training load, as well as recover sufficiently in order for it to move forward with the next training session or event. Time and again, we see athletes and runners alike who, not only forget to consider rest and recuperation as part of their ongoing training or event preparation, but typically work beyond their bodies current limits… and consequently fall foul to an injury (from which they then wish to receive an instant fix!). Unfortunately, the human body has not evolved as fast as other modern day technologies, and as a consequence, our bodies require additional time and nurturing in order to return from any injury. Based upon this pretext, we might find ourselves applying the age-old adage, ‘prevention is better than the cure’… and so providing we can adopt a similar approach to looking after our bodies by following those concepts outlined above (eg: in the same way it might be considered we regularly service and MOT our cars in order to maintain them and reduce the risk for expensive parts to blow), we will hopefully be better placed to reduce our own risk for injury; and perhaps at your next event, even achieve a new Personal Best! 🙂
If you want any help or advice with your training, don’t hesitate to contact us, otherwise, good luck with your training, and of course with your event!!
Are you interested in becoming a running coach? Check out our Running Award Coaching Certificate course here