Don’t let your April RUNS bring you the May STUNS

“Tips for staying healthy and optimizing your running as the weather gets nicer!”

      With spring in full effect and summer approaching, more runners are hitting the roads and trails. Those nice days can motivate you to run longer and go harder. Pushing yourself is awesome, and necessary at times. However, the sunny weather can often trick you into overdoing it with regard to running. Most running-related injuries (RRIs) are due to overuse, meaning that you run too much too soon or within a short period of time. The goal of this blog is to provide some tips to stay healthy during peak running season!

1. Track both time and distance: Your brain thinks of time and distance differently. Research indicates that when tracking time, runners maintain a more consistent pace, while running for mileage will have natural ebbs and flows of increased and decreased intensity. Tracking both time and distance together will provide you with a comprehensive picture of your training volume and be more cognizant of your intensity. If you continually run at higher intensities, your risk of overuse injury increases. In situations of returning from injury, pay closer attention to time initially to better manage pace. Tracking mileage often naturally breeds more of a competitive mindset. And although competitiveness is a positive, it can also hinder recovery if excessive. If you don’t want to continually keep track of both, pick one and at least have an approximation of the other on a weekly basis. Then combine this data with the next tip (#2) in order to best manage your running load!

2. Increase volume by no more than 5-10% per week when training: Gradual increases in volume and/or intensity are always warranted for exercise. Running is no exception. If you spent the winter on the Peloton, your cardiovascular fitness may be adequate, but your joints, muscles and tendons need time to reacclimatize to the forces they undergo during running. When training for races, plan accordingly to allow yourself to increase your running volume gradually. Abrupt spikes in training are associated with increased risk of injuries.

3. Include resistance training at least 2x/week: There is plenty of research to show that resistance training reduces injury and improves performance in runners. Just because you are doing MORE running in the nicer weather, does not mean you do LESS strength training. I’d actually argue it means you should probably devote more time to it!

4. Add sprinting into your routine: Every human can benefit from sprinting 1-2x/week. Sprinting can enhance cardiovascular fitness, musculoskeletal function, nervous system efficiency, and just make you feel like a powerful monster (if feeling like this is not a goal for you, it should be!). Just because you are a marathon runner and won’t be sprinting on race day does not mean it won’t benefit you.

5. Do 5-10 minutes of foot care everyday: All the miles racked up in conventional “running” shoes can have a negative impact on your feet. Performing a consistent foot care routine can be extremely effective in mitigating that influence. Click here for a sample foot care routine. Similarly, spend as much time barefoot as you can when not running. Expose your feet to a variety of surfaces and textures in order to supplement foot health and strength.

6. Sleep 7-9 hours every night: With the increase in mileage, your body needs time to recover. As our body does most of its recovery while sleeping, the more you run, the more you need to sleep. Factor that in as your running schedule intensifies. Consistency is crucial when it comes to sleep. Limited sleep may mean you need to modify your running plans by decreasing volume and/or intensity.

7. Eat to support your body’s energy demands: Most people know this, but unfortunately many people don’t actually know HOW to do it effectively! In our experiences at ProForm, many of our runners are under-consuming protein. Yes, carb and fat intake will provide you with most of your nutritional energy for the task of running, but the protein is essential for rebuilding body tissues and recovering post-run. If you are questioning whether or not your nutrition is adequate for your training, please reach out to us at ProForm. We would love to help!

If you can nail these seven areas, you are setting yourself up for success this running season! Of course, this does not make you immune to injuries, but if I were a betting man, I would wager that your recovery from an injury would be faster if you did get hurt while being consistent in these domains.

And if you are a runner and continually battling injuries, it is beneficial for you to have a running assessment done in order to optimize running mechanics and technique. We can do this at ProForm PT! Contact us for more information.