Whether you’ve recently decided to take up running, are returning from injury, or are just a fair-weather runner (like me!), Spring is a common time for running season to ramp up for many. For us in the Maritimes, this usually coincides with one of the largest annual running events on the East Coast; the ScotiaBank Bluenose Marathon. With all of this in mind, we thought it was the perfect time to discuss some tips for tackling your running goals and how Arthritis and Injury Care can help!
Below we have highlighted some of the important things to keep in mind as you get back into the running spirit:
1) Choose the Right Gear
Footwear is probably the most important investment when it comes to your running gear. Sure, we all want to look good, but when you’re halfway through that long run on race day, what you’re really going to care about is how you FEEL. Running in good quality footwear that meets your individual needs is paramount to training and racing. How do you find the right shoe? Well, there’s a few things you can do…
- Opt for a gait analysis: the team of Certified Pedorthists at Arthritis and Injury Care can perform a gait analysis at any of our HRM locations. This assessment looks at your biomechanics, analyzing the way you walk and run and identifying any abnormalities that may exist. Do you have flat feet and overpronation? Do you have high arches and underpronation? Once your foot mechanics are understood, proper recommendations can be made to ensure the best footwear is used for all activities, including corrective devices such as custom made orthotics, heel cups and more!
- Shop at a specialty running store: the staff at these stores are very knowledgeable about proper running footwear. They can take the results of your gait analysis and pair that with your running style, making sure you have a sneaker that is supportive, comfortable and appropriate for the amount and kind of miles you are going to put on those sneaks.
- Replace them! Regularly!: you buy your running shoes to give you the proper support you need to endure those many miles. Inevitably, like all other things, those shoes will wear and become less effective at supporting you and minimizing injuries. It is suggested you log the dates of new shoes in your training schedule and replace them every 500 to 800 kms.
Another piece of gear, this one less frequently thought of, that could potentially change the way your legs feel while running and, better yet, maybe even affect performance, are compression stockings. The purpose of compression stockings is to improve blood flow and help return circulating blood back to the heart. A sock like the Bauerfeind Performance Compression Sock, is designed specifically for endurance athletes and helps with swelling, achy muscle soreness, recovery post-workout and injury prevention. All of the orthopedic bracing specialists at Arthritis and Injury Care are certified to fit and recommend appropriate compression stockings and are happy to see you anytime to discuss how these could help you with your training! Learn more about the benefits of compression stockings.
2) Pick the Right Program
Whether you are new to running or getting back after being out of the game for a while, picking a running program is crucial to your success. Often times a beginner program, or ‘Learn to Run’, is ideal for both groups, as it lays a foundation for a gradual return that doesn’t do too much too soon and helps minimize the risk of injury/re-injury. It can be hard to get back into the groove, especially starting out, so a running group with fellow athletes that are following a similar program can be a great way to get motivated and stay accountable!
3) Cross Train & Condition
In order to stay healthy and minimize your risk of injury/re-injury, you can’t forget about our strength and conditioning. Low impact aerobic activities like cycling and swimming are excellent cross-training sports to help with your cardiovascular fitness and work different muscle groups, all while helping you keep it fresh, change it up occasionally and combat boredom throughout your training. Similarly, strength training with activities like yoga, pilates, or a weight training routine, helps make you a well-balanced athlete, keeps your supporting muscles strong and, most importantly, minimizes your risk of being sidelined with injury.
4) Stay Patient & Positive
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of ANY sport is your mental health. It is important to be PATIENT, with yourself and the process. It can be challenging to start anything new and running requires discipline to follow the program, not getting ahead of yourself and doing too much too soon, even if you feel like you can/need to do more.
Lastly, stay POSITIVE, don’t get discouraged! Choose reasonable, attainable goals that you can reach the right way, following your program while listening to your body and mind. If you are returning to running after a long break or injury, it can be difficult not to look at previous running accomplishments and be frustrated with the slow return process. If you are a new runner, you can easily get caught up in comparing yourself to other runners, maybe not realizing some of them have been training for much longer and have been in your position once upon a time.
Running can be an incredible form of exercise. Whether you choose to run to get fit, blow off steam, or just have fun, it can be rewarding, relaxing and revitalising! Arthritis and Injury Care is dedicated to helping you achieve your running goals in the happiest and healthiest way possible.