Quarantine and the closure of gyms has turned most of us into runners, and most for the first time. This is GREAT news as it is getting people outside (practicing social distancing, of course) and moving!
When most of us live in condos, we really value the ability to be able to get outside and move!However, while most of you reading this engage in regular activities (inside and outside of the gym), there’s a good chance that most of you haven’t run regularly before the pandemic. And when we say “regularly” we mean more than before, more than just in workouts at the gym – a deliberate choice to run for more than 2 km at a time.
So, what? While running is a great way to build lung capacity and mental fortitude, it is very hard on our bodies, especially when running on concrete. In this regard, the constant impact can in most cases lead to things like knee pain, foot pain and/or shin splints. If you haven’t experienced any of these yet, that is great news! If you have, then hopefully you’re working to get back to a pain-free state.
In either case, here are our top tips to prevent injury or re-injury!
1. Ease into it!
Most of us want results yesterday, and because of this, we are quick to run before we can walk (as the saying goes..). With running, just like any other new activity you are trying, it is important to start out slow and gradual. If you haven’t run 5 km straight before, don’t start with that! Start with 500m or 1 km and build up over time from there. Even if it feels good and you feel OK the next day, refrain from skipping steps and building up your volume too fast. Be patient!
2. Invest in a good pair of running shoes
If you are going to be running regularly, it is crucial that you invest in a good pair of running shoes! Without the proper footwear, your alignment is going to be OFF and paired with the impact running already creates on your joints, this is just a recipe for an injury. Nike Metcons or Reebok Nanos are NOT meant for running. They’re OK to wear in workouts where you’re running 400m increments, but they’re not meant for longer distances. In fact, if you’re someone who is running regularly, you should be investing in a NEW pair of running shoes every 6 – 12 months.
3. Have a proper warmup & cooldown routine
You wouldn’t jump to your 80% back squat without a proper warmup, so don’t start your run without a good warmup either! Think of how long warmups usually are in class and try to mimic this on your own. A good running warmup should start with directed mobility to loosen up the legs and hips, followed by some more dynamic drills to wake up and warm your muscles, preparing them for impact. Feel free to even begin your run with a light jog before building up to your working tempo. When you’ve reached your destination, finish with a light jog and walk, focusing on deep breathing to bring your heart rate down. Then, spend 5-10 mins minimum stretching your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes and hips. Treat your body like the temple it is!
4. Track your workouts
Just like you record your performance in the gym, it’s important to to track your workouts. We like Strava for this (if you’re a member of 6S, make sure to join our team!), but you can use whatever you like! It’s best if you can also get heart rate and pacing data as this will help you measure progress (it is difficult to just do this by recording distances and routes). Use a smart watch if you have one, or your phone. It may seem tedious at first but if you’re serious about wanting to improve your running capacity, you need data points to compare!
5. Have a Plan
If you’re not working with a coach who is programming for you, either get one or create your own plan. Again, if you’re just looking for a casual run every couple of weeks, you likely don’t need a plan (although you should still follow the points above to avoid injury), but if you’re investing your time and energy into running more regularly you should have a plan so that you can reap the benefits of your sustained efforts! In this regard, it also helps to set a goal or goals for yourself, as this will allow you/your coach to build a plan that will help you achieve these goals! Remember that not everyone needs to “run a 5 km race” or “train for a marathon”, “running 2 km without stopping” or “be able to run and not feel so out of breath” are also a GREAT GOALS too!
6. Join a community
Support and accountability are the keys to success! If you like running with other people, grab a friend or two and run together! This not only helps keep the activity fun, but you can help each other keep pace. If you do this it’s a good idea to set expectations initially : What is your goal? What pace are you aiming to keep? Do you like to talk while you run, or listen to your own music? Make sure you and your running buddy are on the same page! If you would rather run alone, join an online support group, like ours on Strava. Having a team of like-minded individuals to count on for support and encouragement is KEY to sticking with this long term!
Running, just like any other activity, takes time to master. There are so many moving parts to consider if you want to really excel at it. However, it’s likely that most of you are running for pleasure and to get out of the condo. Whatever the case may be, make sure to always take care of your body so that you can continue to remain active and do the things you love for your entire life!
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