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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Preventing Running Injuries

Team CMT member Gary Krukar announced this week he has a stress fracture. Team CMT member Jude Burton also has an ankle injury.  I got a stress fracture training for my first marathon and have battled a host of running injuries early in my racing career.  So I thought I would share some tips to staying healthy.

Cross Training
Many runners cannot stand the pounding of running every day.  I have successfully completed 5 marathons by running 3-4 times per week.  I do my speedwork, tempo and long runs and do cross training on the other days. It is rare that I run two days in a row.  Use easy days on your training schedule to do some other type of work out. This gives your legs a chance to rest. It also gives muscles that may not be used in running a chance to get stronger, making you a more balanced athlete.

Cross training also gives an athlete a much needed mental break. You can go out harder on your running days because you will be physically and mentally rested.  I like to use activities that mimic running like pool running, elliptical trainer and biking.  The cross training days should be easy days so don't push. Work out at an easy comfortable pace. No spinning class on these days.

Mileage
Your mileage should never increase by more than 10 percent in any week. If you take a sudden jump in mileage you are asking for an injury. If you have been laid off due to an injury also come back slowly or you risk another injury.


Rest
Half and Marathon training programs are designed to build for two weeks and then back off on the third week for a rest week.  Mimic this hard versus easy schedule even if not training for a marathon. Two weeks hard followed by an easy week. Also a good idea to have on month each year when you also reduce your workouts. I do this every December. I typically cut back to 30 minutes of exercise per day with an hour long run.  December is perfect for me because I have less time for training with the holidays and the weather is not great for running outside.

Most beginner marathon and half marathon programs also have a day of complete rest each week.  Take the rest day. You will have better performance and less risk for injury. If you are an advanced runner take your rest day when your body tells you.  I get a rest day about once every two to three weeks. I know my body well enough to know.

Racing
Racing can be fun and the whole reason why we train.  Race no more than twice a month.  Substitute your tempo run or speed workout for the race.  Racing and hard workouts put a strain on your body. Push yourself too far and you will get injured.

Stretching
Many injuries occur when an athlete does not warm up and cool down properly or from not stretching.
Start your workout with 10 minutes of easy activity. Cool down with 10 minutes of easy activity. Stretch only after your workout. Stretching cold muscles can cause damage.  Yoga done on a regular basis is also good for increasing your flexability.

Shoes
Make sure your shoes are helping not hurting you. Get a good fit at a running store. They are good for about 300 miles.  When you run a lot you may be able to tell when you need new shoes. I can feel it.  If you can't then keep track of your mileage and buy your shoes when you have hit enough mileage. I use my old running shoes for biking or chores around the house.

Gait
It is a good idea to have a physical therapist take a look at your running gait.  The way you run may cause injuries. Your foot may not be in a neutral position and need to be corrected with orthodics.  This can also prevent injuries.

Health Habits
How well you take care of yourself in general can contribute to or prevent injuries. Get 8 hours of sleep each night. Go easy on the alcohol and eat a healthy well balanced diet. Include plenty of fruit, vegatables and whole grains.  Drink plenty of water especially before your work out.

Massage
A good massage therapist is an important aid in keeping you healthy if you are doing long workouts. They can keep muscles stretched. A good massage also gets rid of latic acid accumulated. Plus it feels good and is a nice reward for all the hard workouts!

If some part of your body is hurting, assess what you are doing.  You may need to back off a bit. You may need to get it checked out.  Don't keep pushing and make it worse. A few days of rest may be all you need to keep an injury minor.  Follow this advise and you have a better chance of getting to the starting line healthy and having a good race.




Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

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