Running is one of the best ways to destress after a workday. Consistency in training is important regardless of your running and goals. The worst way to sideline your progress is a running injury. We’ve outline five keys to healthy running that we believe are vital to staying on the road.
Key 1: Tracking training volume and response in healthy running
Perhaps the most important key to healthy running is to make sure the training volume is not out-pacing your ability to recover. If you train more than you can recover, your body will begin to break down. It does not matter if you are a casual daily jogger or a highly competitive athlete.
If you follow running blogs or journals, you may have noticed a lot of different opinions on how to increase training volume. One common recommendation is the 10% rule. The problem with the 10% rule is that this can be drastically different depending on the current training volume. If you are currently at a low training volume, 10% may not be enough to make any noticeable difference. However, if your current training volume is on the high end, 10% can be a huge jump.
We recommend a more individualized approach based on tracking your training volume, performance metrics, and how you are feeling. With these three categories we can develop a plan that suits you best.
Key #2: Two Different training shoes for healthy running
Varying training shoes may seem like a minor detail, but Research has shown that training in multiple pairs of shoes has protective benefits against injuries. The slight variance in shoes allows the tissues to build resilience and adapt to multiple stressors. This leaves you prepared for whatever you may encounter on your runs. We suggest two different shoes styles that you like and rotating between them every other run.
Key #3: Strength Training for healthy running
One of the biggest keys to healthy running is incorporating strength training. Many athletes think they are doing sufficient strength training, but we often see the strength training stimulus far too low to provide benefit to their performance.
For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, you would never follow a program never passing 2 miles in run length. This stimulus wouldn’t help develop the capacity necessary to meet your goals. Instead, you’d increase your mileage weekly until the big race.
The same is true for strength training. If you are doing movements that aren’t significantly challenging (for example, on a scale of 1-10 at least a 7/10 difficult for a set) then your body isn’t going to be stimulated to a level that will force adaptations and improvements. At Onward, we help our athletes perform harder, heavier, and more taxing strength movements in order to ensure their resistance training translates to fantastic endurance benefits.
Key #4: Nutrition
Without fuel in your car, you can’t expect to go anywhere. The same is true for your body. We need adequate levels of macronutrients to allow our bodies to keep performing and recovering optimally. Far too often we see runners in significant caloric deficits. Consequently, they end up dealing with bone stress injuries, chronic muscle strains, etc. because they aren’t giving their bodies enough resources to rebuild tissues. If you are concerned your intake isn’t supporting your training, we highly suggest working alongside a nutritionist or dietician to match your nutrition to your performance goals.
Key #5: Have Your Running Form Assessed
Our final key to healthy running is the icing on the cake. We must examine and address your form if you have taken care of the above and want to take your performance seriously. This is also key to remaining injury free. We believe that a slow-motion analysis of your running form by a trained professional combined with an orthopedic assessment of your strength and flexibility is huge (but often missed) opportunity for runners to take their performance to the next level.
Our Richmond, Va physical therapy team specializes in helping runners optimize their performance and staying healthy! Visit http://onwardrichmond.com/ to schedule and appointment or learn more about running analysis.