Thanks to Alpine’s running specialists, Kristi Moore, MSPT, for this informative post.
It is the time of year when runners begin to look at the upcoming race season and decide what races they will participate in for the year. For many it will be setting a goal for a longer distance race. For others it will be just to finish their first 5K race.
Whether you are just beginning to run or are a seasoned runner, it is important to plan enough ahead of time to train appropriately for the races you are planning to do. A good plan will be 12-16 weeks in length with gradual increases. What does gradual mean? For the new runner, think 10% increase every 3-4 runs. For someone who is consistently running, it can be a little quicker, but you should still make sure it is a gradual increase.
The majority of running injuries are due to training errors, and the biggest error is increasing your mileage too quickly. There are a multitude of training plans out there, and I believe it is a good idea to follow one, especially if you are new to running. Our bodies can adjust to incremental increases in running with less risk of injury. You should expect to feel soreness as you get into or back into running, but not pain or soreness that lasts more than a day.
Another way to help prevent injury as you begin to train for your races is to add some variety to your runs. There is a saying that “variety is the spice of life.” This can help you avoid injury and also improve your running times. The most common ways to change your runs are to do faster runs (i.e. tempo runs or track workouts) that may be shorter in distance. Then do slower longer runs once per week. Also changing where your run can help you get stronger and avoid boredom. This could mean adding in hills or hill repeats on one run per week, or switching to the trails for some of your runs.
When you plan to have different lengths and types of runs, you can let how you are feeling dictate the type of run you do. This can be important for injury prevention. There may be days where you can push through, but listen to your body and know it is ok to mix up your runs. Most importantly have fun in your training!
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