May is the perfect month to get some outside running under your belt. Multiple health benefits of running have been established. However, runners are prone to injury. Common running injuries vary in intensity and severity from blisters to iliotibial band syndrome and may include the following:
- pulled muscles
- runner’s knee
- ankle sprain
- patellar tendinitis
- shin splints
- plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis.
If you are training for a marathon or just casually running in your neighborhood keep these tips in mind as you go through your training
Stretch to avoid running injuries
Some of you may think – “thank you captain obvious”, but in practice, stretching can be daunting for a runner as it is slow and unpleasant. However, never rush through this hugely important step. Spend about 10 min slowly stretching your calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads after each run. Hold stretches for 30 to 90 seconds.
Hydrate and eat a well-balanced diet
Ensure you are well hydrated by drinking 16-20 oz of fluids 2 hours prior to training and another 8-10 oz after. The best foods every runner should include in his or her meal plan are bananas, oats, peanut butter, potatoes, broccoli, whole grain pasta, yogurt and dark chocolate.
Include strength training in your running program
Strength training helps bones, ligaments and muscles endure the grunt of running. It improves your overall athleticism and reduces muscle fatigue that leads to poor performance and injuries. Runners will benefit from a program of 2-3 strength training sessions per week. Make sure to include the exercises that train your lower body, upper body and core.
Increase your distance gradually
Give your body a chance to prepare gradually to handle the workout stress of running. Slowly build up the amount of training and intensity. It should be a staircase progression in volume and intensity, with periods of reduced volume and intensity at certain times during your training.
Invest in a good pair of running shoes
Find a good local running shop and have them analyze your running style. A good running shop specialist will be able to help select a pair for your particular foot type and style of running. Use orthotic inserts if you need a correction specific to your foot structure.