We’ve all been working hard since January to try and get fit or improve on last years hard work. We push ourselves to the limit but need to remember to do our utmost to avoid injuries. Running is often surrounded by injuries, but in all sports your should consider these key tips.
1 . IMPROVE AND MAINTAIN YOUR FLEXIBILITY
Daily stretching is essential to improve and maintain flexibility, which in turn will help improve performance and prevent injuries. Stretching should be done after you warm up your muscles – usually, about 10 minutes of warm up should be enough. Stretching should never be done in a hurry and should include all joints and extremities. Each stretch should be held in place for 30 seconds without bouncing. It is helpful to include sports specific dynamic exercises like high knee drills, skipping, bounding, arm circles, and cross body arm swings.
2. INCLUDE STRENGTH TRAINING IN YOUR RUNNING PROGRAM
Strength training improves a runner’s body strength and overall athleticism. This, in turn, reduces muscular fatigue that leads to poor performance and injuries. Runners will benefit from a program of 2-3 strength training sessions per week. Strength training exercises should focus on all muscle groups including the trunk and upper and lower body. Weight lifting, plyometrics and hill running are all effective methods of increasing strength.
3. STAY HYDRATED AND EAT A WELL-BALANCED DIET
Avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration by prehydrating two hours prior to practice or competition with 16-20 ounces of fluids and another 8-10 ounces after warm-up. Take in 6-8 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes of exercise. Within two hours after exercise, re-hydrate with a pint (20-24 ounces) of fluid for every pound of weight lost during exercise. The best fluids to take before, during, and after exercise are a cooled 4-8% carbohydrate solution.
4. WARM UP AND COOL DOWN BEFORE AND AFTER ALL RUNS
Before practices and competitions, it is important to warm up. The faster the workout or race, the longer the warm-up needed. A warm up for 5-10 minutes helps to flush out lactic acid build-up in muscles and prevents delayed muscle soreness.
5. GRADUALLY INCREASE YOUR MILEAGE & TRAINING SCHEDULE
Good aerobic activity is the foundation of your running performance. The principle of progression means gradually preparing the body to handle workout stress. You slowly build up the amount of training you do along with bumping up the intensity. The progression should not be a steady increase in volume and intensity, but instead should be a staircase progression with periods of reduced volume and intensity at certain times during a training period, season, or year. Increases in training volume, duration and intensity should be a gradual increase of 5-10% per week.