Running is a fantastic activity. We love running. We are designed for running. It is an integral part of how we have evolved as human beings and the ability to move in this way is etched deep in our genetic profiles.

Did you know that even when you are 65 you would be able to run a marathon the same speed as when you were 19 years old? Did you know humans used to run their pray to death long before the invention of hunting tools? Did you know 80% of runners sustain a running related injury?

So if running is so integral to our presence on this planet today – why are we so bad at it?

Many of you no doubt are training for some kind of running related activity this year and none harder than the Marathon distance. It is the peak of many a running career and can also be the gateway to longer ultra distance events for the keener participant. At Strong Lines we see a huge amount of running related injuries. It can be the most frustrating thing in the world, destroying peoples favourite past times or even worse, put a stop to physical activity all together!

In this post we will discuss the easiest way to reduce your risk of injury and give you something that you can implement immediately! One simple question – do you follow a training plan? A great many injuries we see are preventable and none more so that those caused by inappropriate training load. First of all, lets understand what training load is. We will describe training load by three metrics:

  • Volume – We will refer to volume as weekly mileage
  • Intensity – high intensity means speed sessions. Low intensity is long slow running. People measure this in different ways – we will refer to this as minute mile but it could be heart rate zoned or rate of perceived exertion (BORG scale).
  • Frequency – this is how many sessions you do per week

These metrics are relevant to injury because if an error is made in one – it can lead to injury. It has in fact been suggested that certain injuries can be attributed to training error such as:

  • Volume error – may lead to increased incidence of ITB syndrome aka Runners knee, patellofemoral pain and patella tendinopathy – basically pain around the knee
  • Intensity error – may expose you more to developing calf and foot pathology such as achilles tendinopathy, calf strain and plantar fasciopathy.
  • Frequency error – can include both volume and intensity errors therefore if you get your training frequency this exposes you to all manner of evil.

So what is the answer to my training woes I hear you cry? Well, firstly if you have pain, you have an orthopaedic issue and this means something must change. Don’t worry though, you do not have to set fire to your trainers just yet – we like to keep you working within an acceptable window – in fact, this helps rehabilitate your injury but you have to make the necessary corrections to your training error as well. Here are some simple rules that can help you structure your programming:

  • Stick to a 10% increase in your training volume per week when building for an endurance event like a marathon
  • Build in deload, rest periods and tapering into your programme
  • Intensity of training should be in an 80% distance and 20% intensity split
  • Frequency of training is determined by volume and 80:20 intensity split
  • Introduce any change gradually – including nutrition, footwear, programming changes

Addressing programming error is a significant but small part of the larger picture of training injury free. Your biomechanics are an even bigger aspect to which small changes can make huge gains in both performance and injury prevention which is why the next blog will address this side of the injury pool.

Performance and injury is a continuum on which you place yourself depending on certain factors, some you are in control of, like training load and biomechanics. Others you are not in control of such as anthropometric measurements and genetics. By following our simple tips you are taking one step closer toward ultimate performance and away from injury – futureproof your body and LIVE. PAIN. FREE.

Be an intelligent athlete:

Neilson et al (2012). Training errors and running related injuries. 

Dye (2010). The Pathophysiology of Patellofemoral pain – A tissue homeostasis persepctive. 

Goom (2015). Balanceing training load and tissue capacity.  

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