Goal: a running year without injuries

20. February 2018

1. Don’t take off like a rocket 

The sun is shining and it’s getting light after work again. This is precisely why you need to keep yourself in check if you haven’t been out running for a long time. In other words: although you may be highly motivated and eager to trot through the forest, unless you’ve been running through the winter, your musculoskeletal system will not yet be ready for hard and too frequent units and you will inevitably end up with sore muscles. So, take it easy and don’t run too fast or for too long. The main rule for running training: slowly increase the frequency first, then the duration, and only then the intensity of your training.

2. How much is enough?

How often and how intensive you should train depends on many factors: how much am I used to? What is my fitness level? What are my goals? How much time do I have? How old am I? It is crucial to start at your actual level in spring (and not at the level you believed yourself to be last autumn...). Those who haven’t run before but want to start should start with walking, interspersed with short sections of running. Those who only ran once a week in winter should first start doing three training sessions over two weeks until they can increase it to two a week. Consider this: if a competitive athlete increases his units from six to seven a week, this corresponds to an increase of around 15%, if a beginner increases his units from one to two a week, this is an increase of 100%. Accordingly, beginners particularly need to give the parts of their bodies involved in running enough time to adapt. 

3. Keep the training load and load capacity in sync

In running, overload complaints mainly tend to arise in the run-up to competitions because many runners substantially increase their training in the short term whereby individual parts of the body, such as the soles of the feet, Achilles tendons, shin or thigh muscles are not able to withstand these short-term load increases and react by becoming inflamed. Your training load must correspond to your load capacity or resilience. Rule of thumb: if you increase your running training workload by one unit per week, then you should give yourself at least six weeks before you increase it again. If you make a short-term increase from two to four units, then complaints are inevitable. 

4. Don’t just increase your running training

When spring beckons, you simply want to move more without thinking about pacing yourself. This is okay when it comes to a short-term increase in scope, however, you should not only run more, but also do other types of sports. Tip: when increasing your running workload, always include an alternative and gentle sport unit at the same time, be it on the bike, in the water or at the fitness studio. The following is also true: if you run more, you also need to do more gymnastics and strengthening exercises because while running alone will improve your cardiovascular system, it only improves your muscular capabilities to a limited extent, and these need to be trained in other ways.

5. Fast is followed by slow

Every runner knows: intervals promote your performance capability enormously and are extremely beneficial! But at the same time: intensity and duration compete against each other. Those who train very intensively should not do extensive training at the same time. And the intervals are not only fast, but also loaded. Accordingly, good recovery is key after hard and fast training units. This is best done by calmly relieving the strained muscles through alternative types of sports or – if you want to focus on your core sport - with less-intensive recovery runs. 

6. Our direct connection to the ground

We should look after them because we stand on them! We are talking about our feet here, which provide us with a direct connection to the ground and are THE most important piece of equipment for runners. When precisely was the last time you did proper foot gymnastics? Exactly! If you have long-term running goals and want to take part in competitions, then you definitely need to strengthen your foot muscles by doing ten-minute exercises two times a week. You can either do simple foot muscle exercises in front of the TV and while brushing your teeth or also do rope jumping. You just have to do it!

7. Increase in stages – then reduce your training

You are motivated, run a lot, and are constantly getting better and faster - but wait, if your progress is making you (too) optimistic, then you need to take a break now and again. Increase your workload in 3-week blocks and meanwhile considerably reduce your specific running training in the fourth week. You can continue to challenge your heart during this time (for example, through cycling or swimming). But it is good to take the strain off your musculoskeletal system every couple of weeks.

8. Old cells are less supple 

In terms of numbers, the largest age category at major Swiss fun runs is the 40-50-year-old category. It is quite logical that their bodies are not as supple as in their 20s, but not all of them want to believe that. You don’t necessarily just have to accept your age but can do a lot to turn back time with gymnastics, stretching, and strength exercises. The fact is: the older you are, the more preventive forms of training you should do in addition to your running training in order to get by as complaint-free as possible. So, address your weaknesses.

9. Multi-sports in detail

In recreational sports, versatility is one of the biggest secrets when it comes to preventing injuries. However, this not only means mastering several types of sports and doing diverse muscle training exercises but incorporating versatility on a small scale. For example, improving coordination through jumping and swinging exercises, as well as your flexibility, core stability, and doing special exercises such as a standing scale, headstand, and handstand, etc. The larger your diversity of movement, the better you can withstand the specific loads. And the more unilateral you train, the greater the risk that the (logically) unilaterally loaded body will also eventually give in. So, play with balls again or do things (e.g. Vita Parcours), that are new to you.

10. The equipment must also be versatile

Not only the selected form of movement facilitates versatile training: your choice of running shoes can help to ensure that your body is not always stressed in the same way. It is therefore best if you don’t just own one pair of running shoes but several different models that you can alternate between. Wear the lightweight shoes for short and fast runs, the low-slung trail model in the terrain, and the good shock-absorbing running shoes for longer and more comfortable runs. Your running muscles will thank you.