I started running back in 2004 (or was it 2003?). I started exactly how I now recommend runners should start. With a simple programme where for the first week you run 1 minute, walk 1 minute x 10. Strangely my memories of this was doing it in the dark and I had no idea what a running t-shirt was. My new boyfriend at the time (now husband) came out and cycled with me to keep me company (awww!).
I joined a running group and loved it but was over enthusiastic and got countless niggles, injuries and pains. I think the main one was on the side of one of my knees and I often would take rest and then try again. I am sure I started running from zero many times. Once I went to a physiotherapist who couldn’t help me. I also went to see a sports doctor who just said I was fine. Eventually he told me to listen to music and just go out and run. Interestingly that worked.
Over the years I have had also pain in my foot that resulted in taking anti inflammatory tablets for the Amsterdam Marathon (don’t do this, it is not good for you), had shin pain, pain in the bottom of my foot, sore achilles, the works! Nothing was ever serious but it always halted training and often required visits to medical professionals.
Reflecting on this I now realise that the last injury I have had (except for a little niggle before Boston marathon that I wrote about here) was over 2 years ago. More than 2 years since I have had any injuries causing a halt to my training. It was foot pain after running an Ultra of 33 miles. I realise writing about this injury free streak could tempt fate, but I thought I would risk it and share with the world about what I have done to help.
- Strength training – I started this well before I became a Personal Trainer so just did as the gym instructors told me. Adding a better quality of strength work to my programme certainly helped towards preventing injury and it is very much recommended for all runners. It didn’t stop injury all together and this is where number 2 came in.
- Becoming a Biomechanics Coach – this has been the biggest game changer for me. Being able to take control of my body myself, understand how the body works at a deeper level, correcting asymmetries and poor movement as well as doing my strength and conditioning work in a smarter way have really made the biggest difference to my injury prevention. Learning more and more over the last few years about movement has clearly helped me (as well as clients) to make a big difference.
- Cross training – since taking up triathlon my body just feels better. The combination of doing more than one sport means I am moving in more directions and not just repeating the same movement as I was doing in running. I certainly have noticed a difference in how my body moves when just training for a marathon compared to a triathlon. I really wished I’d incorporated some cross training into my programme when I was only running.
- Nutrition – Just talking basics here. Becoming more knowledgeable about food and cooking more with fresh food makes a difference in how my body heals and recovers from both injury and training.
- Movement – We are designed to be hunter-gatherers, not sit in front of computers all day. I can’t avoid working on the computer altogether but I am becoming more aware of the time I am sitting and I often stand up while in front of my computer. I take frequent breaks and move around as much as possible.
If you are struggling with constant niggles and recurring injuries and want to be guided in how you can take control of your own pain, then check out this free video of an exercise I frequently do myself!