There are no serious runners who can say:”I’ve never had an injury”, but you will find that the top-flight, in spite of doing 100 miles a week, are very seldom injured. This is partly because they are an ideal build for running, but also because they are very sensitive to the signs of impending trouble and take action immediately.
1. Vary the training and the terrain. At least 50% of your running should be done off road, on grass or dirt surfaces. The training should not be done all at one pace – even a marathon runner will be doing shorter faster runs on the track or on the grass
2. Change your shoes before they become worn out. It is best to rotate shoes, so that you are breaking in a new pair of trainers, ready to replace the old pair.
While we are talking about shoes, it pays to have the right shoes for each surface. You should have spikes for running on the track, with sets of both medium and long spikes for cross-country and lightweight flats for road running. The advantage of lightweight shoes, as opposed to trainers, is worth several seconds per mile. It may cost more initially, but wearing the wrong shoes is a quick way to getting injured.
3. Always warm up – minimum ten minutes – before starting any fast running.
The warm-up does several things. It reduces the blood flow to the gut and the kidneys and increases blood flow to the limbs; it clear the fluid from the lung membranes, so that you can take in more oxygen, and it encourages the production of adrenalin, which raises your level of performance. The ideal warm up should be 10-15 minutes of jogging, 5 minutes of striding and jogging, working up to a couple of fast 50-metre stride-outs and a couple of minutes gentle stretching.
4. Always warm down – minimum 5 minutes – after any race or fast running.
This allows the blood flow to return to normal and removes extra fluid and waste products from your muscles. Ten minutes of easy running should be enough.
5. Never do a hard session or a race while you are still stiff from the previous hard effort. Stiff muscles tear more easily.
6. Schedule rest periods into your programme if you are training hard. i.e. more than 5 times a week. One week in four of reduced training is a good idea.
7. High mileage runners – 60 miles a week or more – should try to get regular massage – at least every 2 weeks. The masseur will get to know your muscles and spot signs of tightness or imbalance.
8. Make sure that you maintain your immune system but eating regularly and healthily,3 or 4 times a day. Taking your Orbana an hour before training will keep up your energy levels, as well as reinforcing your immune system., and taking Orbana after a hard session will have the same effect.
9. Always keep a training diary and record your reaction to each race or session. The diary will soon tell you whether you are over training
10. If in doubt, ease off.
Recovering from injury
Active recovery is the best thing. Very often the injury will allow you to walk, cycle or swim, so you should switch over to some or all of these as soon as you have had the injury treated. If you have gym facilities avsilsble, go along to the gym and get advice as to what exercises you can do safely. There are lots of machines now which will give you cardio-vascular exercise without stressing the injury – static bikes, step machines, rowing machines, ski machines – so you have no excuse. Ice will help to reduce inflammation after exercise and taking Ibuprofen before exercise will slow down the inflammation response – but consult your physio about this.
When you start back again (See T.A.6), walk before you run, and give your self a week’s recovery for every week you have missed.