Want to start running again? We can do it the Hard Way, or the Smart Way.... (continued)
We’ve been following the story of Tiffany (not her real name), who is our lady returning to running after a few years off with study (read Part 1 here first).
Her story continues now with what I refer to as “the Smart Way” to start running again. As you’ll recall, Tiffany was particularly interested in the potential speed and enjoyment increases that this could offer her.
Does the shoe still fit?
Things are likely to have changed over the period of time Tiffany has stopped running, so “The Smart Way” simply begins with assessing where the body is up to. Whilst this is running specific for Tiffany, these principles apply for any type of sport or activity, from swimming to snowboarding.
Are there muscle imbalances, stiffness’s, weaknesses or deconditioning that have occurred? In Tiffany’s case, her issue was deconditioning and stiffness in the hips and the legs (usually from too much sitting- read more about this here), but there are numerous different factors and regions that can affect the return to running process- a great example of some of these can be seen in Kelly Starrett’s video series below.
The simplest way to identify these is to be assessed by your Physiotherapist and from there you can identify and then formulate a plan with them to correct these issues proactively, rather than dealing with them in “crisis mode” once an injury has occurred.
Most things can be addressed through an effective warm up and cool down routine, which forms the other key component of “the Smart Way”.
Motorcars before they race always perform warm up laps, where they heat the brakes and the tyres before pushing into their performance. If it’s good enough for a replaceable, man-made object, then it’s surely good enough for our own irreplaceable body!
Too often, people throw on the shoes and head out the door, cool as a cucumber, throughout their muscles, tendons and joints. However by simply applying 5-10 minutes of a warm up routine to prime the body generally, but also to target and correct some underlying biomechanics issues, it makes for a more enjoyable, more efficient and generally less painful running session.
The same goes for the cool down period and recovery process following the run to repair and prepare for the next session.
This is what Tiffany implemented after our chat- she included some tailored warm up and cool down exercises to her running schedule to address her biomechanics issues whilst she continued to build the volume of her running in a gradual and enjoyable manner.
The real key and take home message here is QUALITY before QUANTITY- if you can improve the QUALITY of your running, THEN we can begin to successfully increase the QUANTITY of the running. It all begins with knowing where you’re starting and then planning how to arrive at the finish line “the Smart Way”, with strength and a smile.
Van gent, R.N., et al. (2007). Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(8), 469–480.
Starrett, K & Murphy, T.J. (2014). Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally. United States