Running 101

spring running

Running 101 – By Kaitlyn Joyal

Whether you’re a new runner with eyes for completing your first 5K, or a seasoned marathoner or half marathoner going for a PR, we’ve amassed some great tips and littered this post with great articles from Runner’s World to keep you injury free!

Start Slow

Always build your mileage slowly. A general rule is to never increase your weekly mileage more than 10%. Too much, too soon will only increase the likelihood of an injury which could stop you not only from enjoying outdoor runs but also other great summertime activities (like watersports). When training for a race, premeditation is key, you can’t train for a 10k in a week! The best way to ensure you’re not taking on too much week to week is to follow a training plan that suits your goals. For your first half marathon, 14 weeks of training is ideal, 18 for a full marathon, but it truly depends on your current fitness level (and remaining injury free!). Runner’s World has some basic and custom training plans to check out for 5ks, 10ks, half and full marathons.

Get The Right Gear : Invest in some proper shoes

Proper running shoes, although often expensive, pay for themselves in injury prevention. Each person’s feet and gait require something different from their running shoe–support, cushioning, motion control, flexibility… If you’re not sure what kind of shoe you need, staff at running specialty stores like the Running Room are trained to help determine those needs. But before you head to the store there are a few simple ways you can investigate your foot type. The simplest way is by looking at the arch of your foot, it can give you clues as to the potential problems you may encounter without proper foot wear. If you have a high, defined arch you most likely under-pronate or supinate excessively (your foot an ankle roll outwards after the shock of impact has been absorbed), this can lead to Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)  as well as possibly runner’s kneeplantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitisIf you have a flattened arch you most likely pronate excessively (your foot and ankle roll inwards after the shock of impact has been absorbed), this can lead to repetitive strain injuries like shin splintsrunner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis. If your arch is neither too flat or too high, lucky you, you have neutral feet!! This foot type is the least prone to the above mentioned injuries as long as the foot mechanics are not interfered with (as can happen with the wrong shoe). 

foot types

Can’t tell what kind of arch you have by looking at it? The best way to determine your arch type is to look at your footprint in wet sand (or snow if you’re feeling brave!)  A flat foot will have a large imprint, a high arch will have a thin mid-section and a neutral foot will be somewhere in between. This sand method is also helpful in confirming if you are over or under pronating (a flat foot does not always over pronate, a high arch does not always supinate and a neutral foot could potentially do either depending on your foot strike or leg strength)

For over pronators, shoes that emphasize “stability” or “motion control” will suit you best and for supinators shoes that emphasize “flexibility” and “cushioning” will suit you best. If you have neutral feet, focus on shoes that do not fall heavily into these other categories– some stability and some cushioning is probably okay, but stay away from anything that may push your foot to pronate or supinate more than it would normally.

Sometimes running shoes, as they are, are not enough. Custom orthotics, which we provide, are made specifically to your feet and can be worn not only in your every-day shoes, but your running shoes as well.  We discuss orthotics and plantar fasciitis here.

The foot is designed in a way to be most effective without shoes– our forefathers feet were used to travel over rugged terrain, bending, flexing and utilizing all the small muscles in our legs and feet. Walking on flat, hard surfaces changes the mechanics of our feet which then require the support of shoes to correct imbalances and inefficiencies. This is the idea behind Barefoot Running which has become both popular and controversial. The arguments and research that surround this topic are pretty complex and will be addressed in a later post.

Be Seen

The second most important piece of equipment in your closet: reflective clothing and tape. Because daylight hours are still limited, it’s likely you’ll be running after sundown. As runners we often feel our presence on the road is obvious to drivers, but its not always so, wearing reflective clothing makes ensures that drivers can’t miss you! Even if it’s daylight when you set out on an evening run, its a good idea to prepare to be seen on the road. Although it may not be dark, conditions at dusk and dawn can make seeing runners difficult.  In a runner vs. vehicle collision, the vehicle usually fairs better, so be seen! Most running shoes and clothing have reflective features already in them but if you don’t want to spend the money on running clothing you can purchase reflective tape specifically for clothing. For those late evening runs consider investing in LED lights to clip onto your clothing so you’re visible from all angles. AthLights are an inexpensive and unobtrusive alternative to your typical LED light.

Stretch! Stretch! Stretch!

Did you know we have a great article on this topic alone?! You can find it here!

Cross Training is Vital

Strength training is just as important as stretching when it comes to injury prevention. Runner’s World (of course) has a great article on  how to best combine strength training and running and has a ton of workouts to keep things exciting. When cross training for a race its important to focus on endurance, strength and speed, not just strength.  Core work (like planks and Russian twists) are vital to race training! For some more challenging and unconventional strength training check out Competitor’s article on 6 Injury-Reducing Exercises for Runners

Popular Winnipeg Races for 2014

The Manitoba Runner’s Associations website has a great interactive race calendar for 2014 that includes everything from family fun runs to full marathons. All that’s left to do is pick the race, grab your (properly fitted) shoes and head out the door!

For more Spring Running Tips check out Run and Become’s post!

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