The New Year is a great time to make changes to your routine. If you have a running goal for 2019 – whether that’s to complete your first marathon, improve your personal best or simply make running a regular habit – follow these tips to improve your running, avoid injury and increase your running stamina.
1. Don’t run before you can walk
The key to a successful running schedule is to build up the miles gradually. If you’re a beginner running for the first time, you might be desperate to get out there and complete a 5k as soon as possible, or if you’re training for a big race, you might be eager to notch up the miles and push ahead of your training timetable. But it’s essential to give your body time to adapt to the new challenges you’re putting it under, or you risk sustaining an avoidable sports injury. A good rule of thumb is to increase your mileage (or running time) by no more than 10% every week.
2. Improve your strength
Running is an excellent form of cardio exercise, but without strength training, your muscles and joints may not be able to support you sufficiently. Hit the gym and work out with weights, or join a class like Pilates or TRX, and you’ll see the difference your stronger muscles make to your running performance. A good strength training programme will help you improve your speed, reduce your risk of injury, and perform to your full potential.
3. Take time to recover
Recovery is an important part of any training programme. However far or fast you want to run, your body needs rest days to allow your muscles to heal and your bone tissue to repair. On rest days you don’t have to stay idle if you don’t want to; you could opt for a low-impact form of exercise like yoga or swimming, or complete a gentle recovery run. After a strenuous workout, a sports massage can help lengthen muscles and reduce stiffness.
4. Get your gait analysed
Your running style is as individual as you are. Your gait – the position and movements you use when putting one foot in front of the other – can affect your running efficiency, your speed and, most importantly, your likelihood of sustaining an injury. By getting your gait analysed by a physiotherapist or in a specialist running shop, you’ll be able to select running shoes and orthotics that support your whole body and reduce your risk of a running injury.
5. Listen to your body
Running is a high-impact sport, which means it can take a toll on your joints. If you are experiencing any kind of niggling pain when you run, that’s your body telling you something’s wrong. The chances are, if you keep running through an injury, you’ll make it worse, which could mean having to rest up until it heals (and potentially missing out on that big race). Don’t risk it: get it seen by a physio!