Week two of my New Balance Canada #SeeMyRun contest and there have been some fantastic entries so far. This week fitness expert Brent Bishop contributes a great article on running tips on how to hit the pavement with proper progression. Here are his key tips to ensure you get back to your outdoor running safely, effectively and that you improve your running performance.
1. Progression is Key – Most spring running injuries stem from doing too much too soon. Remember, if you are a runner who avoids the outdoors in the winter, you’re joints are not going to be accustomed to the impact when you hit the pavement. Even though your cardiovascular system may be conditioned from some indoor winter cardio training, progression is important when it comes to returning to the pavement. Try incorporating a test run. If you’re a winter treadmill runner who normally runs 5-10km, try to make your first pavement run approximately 2-3km less at a slower pace and break it up with a couple minutes of fast walking. If you are just starting out with your running you will benefit from a walk-run routine (example: 2 minutes jog/3 minutes power walk for 20 minutes). After a couple of weeks, your joints will begin to adapt to the impact as the supporting muscles and tendons increase in their strength.
2. Improve Muscular Balance – Most of the common repetitive strains and injuries I witness with clients who are competitive or recreational runners are ailments that stem from muscular imbalances. Many injuries are avoidable if the body is able to withstand the prolonged impact of running. Running mechanics are based on natural gait that we were born with, however; other lifestyle implications such as sitting for long hours can wreak havoc on our posture, shorten our muscles in the front of our body and cause our posterior chain (muscles in the back of the body) to be comparatively inactive. The result is muscular imbalance and postural weakness. Compound that with the repetitive impact of running and you predispose your unstable joints to uneven strain. The key to improving muscular imbalances is to firstly seek out a fitness professional to undergo a functional movement screen. This allows you to identify areas of weakness, imbalance and poor mobility.
3. Functional Strength Training – include 2-3 days per week of functional strength training. This entails, using the knowledge from your functional movement screen to address areas of weakness during your strength conditioning workouts. Functional strength training involves incorporating whole body natural movements through full range of motion. Exercises such as deep lunges, trunk rotations, deadlifts and squats can help improve joint strength and therefore transfer to enhanced running mechanics.
4. Mobility – Equally as important is to have a regular focus on joint mobility. Warming up before your run should include activities like light jogging, lunges, leg swings and dynamic stretches (moving through the range of motion) in order to increase circulation to the joints and prepare your body for the impact. Tools such as foam rollers and massage balls can be instrumental post-run to ensure that you restore muscle pliability and enhance post-run recovery.
5. Proper Footwear – To ensure good running mechanics are encouraged throughout the duration of your runs, it is important to have the proper footwear. Running shoe type can be dependent on the length and type of running that you are planning to do. Everyone’s needs are different physiologically; some may have a neutral foot placement while others may over-pronate (foot rolls inward during gait cycle) or over-supinate (foot rolls outward during gait cycle). In addition to differences in foot placement, there are also differences in foot widths. I recommend that you go to a reputable footwear store where your foot can be properly assessed for your running needs. Some brands such as New Balance come in many widths to suit a wide variety of foot sizes.
To enter the contest you must be following GTONGE1 and New Balance Canada on Twitter and share a pic via twitter with @GTONGE1 and @NEWBALANCECAN of your favourite place to run , perhaps it’s a back woods trail, a busy street or even at the gym be sure to use the hashtags #NBZante #FreshFoam #SeeMyRun and you are entered to win a brand new pair of Zante Fresh Foam shoes.
Brent Bishop is a celebrity trainer, on-air fitness expert, author and owner of Think Fitness Studios