Brewsters Running was born out of a clear need in the running community for easily accessible and easy to understand information about injury treatment and rehabilitation. Since the early days, we have been the ‘go-to’ resource for a lot of people to help get them back on their feet and running their best.
It makes a whole lot more sense though, to prevent injuries before they happen. This will save time, money, stop FOMO and a whole lot of frustrated non-runningness.
So what then, are some good rules and methods to follow to make sure you are doing everything you can to avoid injuries in the first place…?
1) A graduated overload: Overload is the principal of gradually increasing, time, intensity, resistance or some other factor to your training which forces the body to adapt and improve. If you suddenly increase any of these factors at a rate higher than the body can manage, the result is undoubtedly injury. We all know this as common knowledge, but it is very easy to start adding more to your training when things are feeling good. Don’t know how much to add or how much is too much? Get a coach or ask someone with a lot of experience.
2) Running is not always enough: There are a lucky few who can get away with just running and not doing any other forms of training without getting injured. The reality though is that if you are planning on building up your training to big distances, then you should be doing other types of exercise to condition your body. Resistance training is a great idea build muscle that will help to support and stabilise your joints and help with absorbing the stress your put through your body while running. It doesn’t need to be heavy weight lifting, even bodyweight exercises are brilliant when done correctly. As long distance runners it is easy to build great endurance and a lean body, but strength is needed to help prevent injury but also to help us function more effectively in everyday life. Generally speaking, one good resistance session per week is a great idea, where some people will prefer to do more to maintain a specific physique. The main thing is that the training is “functional”, meaning that the exercises replicate real world movements and use large muscle groups that involve multiple joints in each movement, with an engaged core. Don’t know where to start with resistance training? Get a coach or ask for help from a personal trainer.
3) Recover: Training hard brings many rewards, but so does recovering properly. Training should build gradually as explained in point one but it should also be cyclic in the way it’s planned. Scheduling a drop in load or intensity on a semi-regular basis is important from a physiological point but a psychological point too. Each individual will have slightly different requirements with this, but reducing the amount of training you do for a week or so, every now and then is important to help your body recover properly but also to give your mind a break from the constant effort required of it. Having a cycle in your weekly training plan is also important. This will ensure your harder sessions have time allocated after them for sufficient recovery before you back up again with your next session. Getting the right balance with all this is just as important as doing the training itself. Not sure how to structure your micro and macro training cycles? Get a coach or speak to someone how has been doing this for a long time and knows what works… then test it on yourself.
4) Service the machine: View your body like a race car. You wouldn’t drive your race car until it broke down, you’d take it to a mechanic regularly to make sure it is working at its best. The same philosophy should be applied to your body if you are regularly pushing it hard. Massage, stretching, foam rolling, cold water after exercise, heat for tired and tight muscles, etc, all contribute to your race car performing better when it counts most. If you start to feel a niggle or the return of an old injury, get your body in to see an expert ASAP. Call it emergency prevention… Hitting the problem on the head before it becomes a real concern.
5) Fuel the machine: I’ll leave the nuts and bolts of this section for Chris to explain, but basically we need to make sure we are running our engines on the best quality fuel we can. What we put in is what we get out, so if you are eating fresh and clean, then you can expect your body to give you its best in return. I’m not going to preach Paleo, Vegan, or any other specific “diet” methodology because everyone has their own views on the topic, but just consider what goes into your mouth and also think about what isn’t going into your mouth. By that I mean, what nutrients are missing from your diet and may need to be added some other way (supplementation)? Is the quality of your food high, and if not, what impact may that have on the nutrient density of your food? Are you eating appropriately for the amount of exercise you are doing and are you eating the right stuff at the right time to help your body do what it needs to do? Don’t know if your eating habits are matching what you are asking your body to do? Ask a nutritionist.
6) Don’t lose the happy: I’ve seen way to many runners push themselves hard striving for a particular goal, they do everything right only to end up injured or burned out. Our bodies and our minds both need stimulation to be healthy and happy. It is one thing to train hard and push yourself beyond what you want to do, for a while… but if you lose the “happy”, the reason you decided to run in the first place, your mind will let your body down. Make sure that your training gives you as much as you give it. You need to look forward to the work, it has be be enjoyable (not all the time – but most of the time). If you don’t feel good about what you are doing, then you are probably doing it wrong. Don’t know how to make your happy, find your happy or maintain your happy? Get back to basics. Just run when it feels right, stop when it doesn’t, and do it in a place and with the people that make you smile.