However as most triathletes know, running is the discipline that puts most people out for weeks with injury- much more than swimming or cycling because of the impact on the body from pounding the pavements. Running injuries usually creep up on people. As an athlete, we all have aches and pains from time to time- that is part of the nature of training. But as a triathlete, managing three sports, we are prone to over training. Fatigue builds up due to too much training, not enough rest, not enough sleep, poor nutrition or simply juggling everything!
When we are most fatigued, our form and technique slip and we are at most risk of being injured. Every athlete has the odd day when their legs are aching from previous days training and they feel exhausted. But if this continues for several days in a row, take the warning signal and have a few days off or drop the intensity of training.
Sometimes the effort to “push through” just makes things worse and your body will make you stop by getting flu or developing an injury like shin splints or Achilles tendonitis. To avoid fatigue and injury break up the run sessions: sometimes do long, slow steady runs, other times do harder but shorter interval sessions. You will have worked hard and gotten some great improvements in fitness but had significantly less impact and pounding on the body.
Also make sure you spread out your long runs with a few days in between to allow the body to adapt, recover, get stronger. The body improves and adapts during rest- so make sure you get some!
Core stability is crucial and more and more research is pointing to the fact that this is the fastest way to improve your running speeds. If you have a weak core, you are simply wasting energy and have to work twice as hard to move the same distance forward.
The other secret that will help improve running speed and prevent fatigue and injury is stretching. The calves, hip flexors and hamstrings in particular suffer and tighten up with hard training sessions. Continue to stretch these out on a regular basis.
If you do have persistent pain, get it checked out by a sports physiotherapist right away. Do not let it get so bad that you need weeks or months off like many athletes do because they are trying to be tough. Any pain means there is damage in the muscles, joints or tendons. If a few days off does not sort it out, do see a specialist rather than run through the pain then develop and overuse injury.
I’m not going to lie to you because developing running speed could be a pain sometimes. If you want to push yourself over the limits, then you need to be prepared for some discomfort. Learning to ignore all the bad feeling that hits you when you are in your beginnings is the only way to acquire this skill.
This exercise is considered as one of the best when developing a good running pace. It’s true that it’s very hard to get used to it, but once mastered, you’re not going to believe how much speed you’ve acquired. Some people may go further and use stairs to execute this exercise, but no matter what you’re doing, make sure to start slowly and then progress. One of the factors that will determine your running speed is of course your lower-body muscles, and this exercise seems to really work them out.
Many people don’t really realize the importance of focus in all of this, but believe me when I say that it’s probably what will move you up in speed. Unlike long or regular running where you need to be distracted to keep your mind off exhaustion, developing speed require you to focus on every step you take while running. If you get distracted for one second, then you’ll lose that tempo that keeps you going faster.
You may know what I’m talking about here; it’s those moments where Sri Chinmoy would say you have transcended your body. You are trucking along and perhaps doing it hard when a curious thing happens; you stop trying to run and simply let it happen. Essentially you get out of the way; you remove yourself, your ego and your expectations from the equation. For me at least, in these solitary moments I find something that is so attractive and enticing and it leaves me hungry for more.
There is something in this state of disconnectedness that is still so very connected. I recently had a discussion with someone that is practicing mindfulness, a heightened state of awareness of themselves and their place in the world. What we are discussing here is perhaps both mindfulness and mindlessness. In these moments effortless energy we are simultaneously completely aware of and appreciative of our environment and at the same time separate to it, unaffected by and comfortable with it.
I was first exposed to this “feeling” while training in the Martial Arts. I would be being pushed to my limits and just when I thought I couldn’t carry on, I would retreat into my head and stop trying to force the effort. Something would shift and then effort would be replaced with ease. I felt like I could keep going for as long as I needed to and the intensity wouldn’t matter. It definitely took the action of disconnecting from the effort though for it to happen. As the years went by, I found it easier to reach this state and in running I discovered another way to tap into it.
I love this quote from Aristotle about reveling in solitude and being like a wild beast or a god. I don’t know about being a god, but I can definitely relate to the feeling of being a wild beast. This is perhaps the best way to describe this concept of effortless energy; as a wild beast you are not running in nature, you are nature running. What could be more natural than letting these supreme vehicles that we have been given, the chance to just go?
There is so much joy to be had running in groups or with a friend and I will write more about this in the future, but don’t forget to make time for a little solitude so that your beast can take over and do its thing.
A major cause of Achilles pain is running too much too soon. When you are starting to build up your mileage for an upcoming longer race – or coming back after time off, runners have a tendency to want to get longer mileage in quickly. However, this is a major culprit in running injuries. You want to make sure that you are only increasing your mileage by 10% from one week to the next. For instance, if you are running 10 miles this week – next week you should only run 11 miles. This is a great rule of thumb to build your mileage safely.
When you first notice your heel pain, you want to start treating it as soon as possible to keep it from getting worse. You want to follow the RICE treatment that many runners are familiar with. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Apply ice to your Achilles area. You don’t have to go out and buy a fancy ice pack. An easy way to do this is to simply put ice in a washcloth and use that to ice the area. Icing will keep down any swelling and make the heel area feel better. You may also want to take ibuprofen to help keep the swelling down.
You can find wraps or elastic bandages for your Achilles tendon at most drug stores or grocery stores. It is important to keep the area bandaged if you are doing some light running on it. When you are finished your run – or whenever you can, make sure that you are keeping your heel elevated. This will also help with any swelling.
Even when you are resting your Achilles tendon, you want to move your ankle/heel area a little bit to keep it from getting stiff. A great and easy exercise to do is to simply move your foot around in a circular motion. This will help keep your range of motion and keep it flexible.
If there is one reason why you should get such gear, it is that the compression applied by the clothing delivers additional blood flow to the key muscle areas. As you know, blood carries oxygen to different parts of the body. Oxygen provides additional energy to the muscles in the legs, as well as increases the athlete’s stamina and overall performance. With the help of compression wear, additional amounts of oxygen can be pumped into vital parts of the body, particularly the joints and the muscles.
In addition, compression provides stability to the muscle and reduces or regulates muscle oscillation. This helps in reducing the onset of fatigue on the muscles used for running. This also helps restore integrity to the muscle tissues as they recover from strenuous exercises. Aside from that, the compression produced by the clothing initiates a healing response to groups of muscles that have been injured during training. Additionally, it reduces inflammation or swelling and speeds up the recovery process of any damaged muscle.
Another benefit of compression clothing is that it regulates body temperature and works regardless of the weather. Since it fits very close to the body, it allows the skin to “breathe”. For instance, when you’re running in hot weather, compression clothing helps you get rid of moisture from your body more efficiently, while during cold weather, the same principle applies.
Finally, compression clothing helps increase proprioception. This refers to the awareness of the position of one’s body. Increased proprioception heightens the senses and improves balance and muscle coordination when running. This helps improve an athlete’s running technique at the same time.
In a nutshell, compression wear can significantly improve a runner’s power, endurance, agility, and recovery. It does these things by providing additional support to the muscle groups and delivering supplementary blood flow to these areas. It also helps regulate body temperature, reduce fatigue, and improve muscle recovery rate.
When I began running I just had one goal. I wanted to complete a marathon. More than anything else, I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Since I wasn’t really athletic in any other capacity, I told myself, “I can put one foot in front of the other. I”m strong mentally and have plenty of determination. This will be good for me.” So that was it. I began my training to knock this thing off my bucket list. I had no idea that this running thing would turn into much more than just crossing the finish line in a marathon.
The first few weeks were fairly normal. I did my daily runs and tried to get enough rest to have the energy to run my next one. Then, I began my long runs on Saturdays. Although I labelled them “long runs” in my training log, they were more like “short runs”, 2-4 miles at first. Every week I added a mile to my long runs. I did all of my training at an old Civil War battlefield. Most Saturdays I was the only one there. So, I took my iPod for entertainment. I ran every weekend beginning early in the mornings. After about 2 months I hit one of my first big milestones, double digit mileage!
At that point I was pretty excited about all that I had accomplished so far, but it was getting challenging. Physically, the running was beginning to get to me, so I knew I had to rely on my mental strength to get me through the rest of it. After all, I wasn’t even halfway to my goal yet! What had I gotten myself into? But I didn’t come this far to quit. So I kept running, and then something almost magical happened.
The physical pain disappeared. The heaviness of my legs lightened. My energy went back to the fresh level it was before I even began my run. It was unbelievable. It was truly what a lot of people call a second wind. Was it a fluke? Absolutely not. Things changed for me that day.
I realized that I could generate reserves of energy that most novice runners never tap into just because they’ve never had to. I was absorbing energy from every piece of nature around me. I began running without my iPod. I didn’t need music anymore. It seemed that I was creating my own rhythms in my footsteps and my heartbeat. Once I wrapped my mind around the fact that I could just run and run and run as long as I kept my focus I knew that running could be a powerful form of meditation. Running became my way of connecting with myself and the world around me in a way that unified my spirit and gave me the belief that much more is possible than we usually believe. We just have to tap into our higher powers.
High carbohydrates, particularly glucose, keep your body performing during a marathon. Glucose is converted into vital energy that helps fuel moving muscles – the faster and more you run, the more glucose you use up! Here are some key things to think about glucose:
When consuming carbohydrate meals prior to a race, you want your muscles and liver to store the maximum amount of glycogen to prevent poorly fueled muscles. This is only necessary if you’re doing endurance race events. You will notice some weight gain. Carbs cling to the water in the body so as you store more glycogen, your body will hold more water. This is good because it indicates that you have fueled up properly and it helps keep you from becoming dehydrated during your run. You should lose the 2-3 pounds within a day or two. However, if you’re carb-loading every day, you will notice unwanted tightness in your running shorts. To get the most out of carb-loading:
Taking in carbs during a run slows down the rate at which you utilize your stored glycogen and helps keep you going longer, which is why there are sports drinks and gels at stations at long race events. Furthermore, when you eat carbohydrates and protein post-run, you set your body up to ideally restock glycogen stores for the next workout and help rebuild muscles. A couple of things to remember when fueling your body:
Not only is the Scarpa Manta brand the favorite in the UK, it has also been a six time winner of the Trail’s best 4 season boot accolade. The classic and popular boot is ideal for all seasons, especially winter and is great for Alpine climbing, hiking or walking across a glacier.
One benefit of the brand is that the footwear is durable and will last you for at least several years. The boots are flexible and comfortable and are resistant to abrasion; they are also great for protecting the feet.
The boots also remain dry all the time, thanks to the water resistant GORE TEX lining, a great feature for outdoor use. Also essential for outdoors enthusiasts is the pattern of heave on the soles of the boots, allowing a much better grip on snow and ice. Walking is also easier because of the ankle cuffs. Scarpa Manta boots have also improved over the years, with a more cushioned sole and an overall lighter feel. In fact the weight of the shoe has been reduced by 10 percent, because of the pro fiber midsole, which mimic the use of crampons, allowing you to climb at higher altitudes. The overall stability of the shoe has also been improved too.
For over half a century, men and women have been wearing the high quality shoes manufactured by Scarpa Manta. The prices have remained reasonable, ensuring value for money and for many years, this high quality Italian shoe maker has been popular and respected in the US.
These boots that are perfect for the outdoors and winter sports are created by a team of dedicated professional, all of whom love their work, as well as the outdoors. The company also carefully monitors every aspect of their shoe production process, right up to the finished product. Even the leather is specially chosen and is water resistant because of the small silicone particles in the material.
For decades, Scarpa Manta have relied on a combination of quality materials, expert craftsmanship and the latest in technology to create some of the best winter footwear there is. If you are climbing in the UK and want the ultimate in comfortable, yet practical footwear, a pair of these shoes is a must.
Some of the most common causes of tight calves are possibly having a biomechanical issue with your running gait, increasing your mileage by too much too soon or by running in snow or on ice.
To see if you have a biomechanical problem with your running, go to a qualified running store. Many running stores have a treadmill in them where they will watch you while you run. If they don’t, they will watch you run to see if you have a problem with your form. If this is the problem, they can make sure you are wearing the correct type of shoes. Or, you may need to wear a special insert/orthotic in your shoes.
As far as training mileage, make sure that when you are increasing your mileage for a longer race or after a layoff correctly. Only increase your mileage by 10% from one week to the next. For instance, if you are running 20 miles a week, only increase your mileage next week by 2 miles.
When the roads are slick from snow or ice, runners have a tendency to shorten their stride and will cause you to run different than you normally do. This change in your gait can cause tight calf muscles.
To help relieve tight calves, stretch out your calves after your run. One of the best is one that I’m sure you’ve seen done. Place your hands on a tree or wall – arms should be extended. Lean with one leg bent and the other one extended back with your knee straight. Keep the heel of the rear foot flat and feel the stretch on your calf. You should feel the stretching of your calf. Hold this for about 30 seconds and then do it with your other leg.
For runners who run regularly, yoga is beneficial to them in so many ways. One will learn the stretching techniques which are needed in order for the muscles to relax before a race. After running in a half marathon usually the hamstrings and feet are tight, painful and aching. The yoga stretches can eliminate these aches and pains. In yoga a runner learns how to breathe properly thus improving the capacity of the lungs. He or she is able to overcome nervousness, anxiety and develops self-confidence. This will give the runner an advantage on the day of the race itself.
A runner who practices yoga will likewise have a very relaxed attitude thus eliminating any stress and tension thereby making the race more enjoyable. A runner can achieved better posture, correct body alignment and a stronger core when employing the yoga techniques. The first technique is the head to knee. This is for the leg muscles. This is done by sitting on the floor with the legs stretched out in front of the body. The left leg is bent a little and the left leg drawn towards the groin while the knee is pointed to the side. Then bend the opposite leg and place the forehead on the knee.
While keeping the forehead on the knee, both hands must clasp the right foot and straighten the leg. This should be executed for about 45 seconds. This should be repeated on the other side. It may look simple but it is a kind of yoga stretch which will improve one’s flexibility. Next in an erect stance with the feet pointing forward and the back straight, the body is lowered into a squat position with the heels in contact with the floor. Again this stretch should be for 45 seconds and repeated three to five times. Another technique is to bend forward with legs wide apart. This technique will benefit the back and hamstrings. To begin, one must stand in an erect position with the feet wide apart and turned slightly. Slowly bend from the waist down to the toes maintaining a straight back for 45 seconds.
The other stretches in yoga which can be beneficial to half marathon runners are as follows: diamond pose which is good for the legs and ankles; basic lunge which conditions and strengthen the legs and hips; bound angle stretch and pose which is good for the hips, groin and thighs; wall dog pose which is good for the back and hamstrings; lotus-conditioning and balance pose; and the garland pose which is great for ankles, calves and feet. The combination of the basic stretches and poses in yoga gives a runner good balance and flexibility.