Training and in particular running can be as complex and competitive as you like or it can be as social and relaxed as you wish. The great thing about exercise is that, unlike many other areas of your life, you do it solely for yourself, and therefore you get to chose the commitment and intensity you wish to train at.
However, the one thing that every active person wants to avoid irrespective of whether they are a full time professional or 2-day-a-week social exerciser is INJURY. So here are my 3 top tips to help you substantially reduce the risk of picking up an unwanted injury.
Make sure you always warm-up correctly before you start to exercise. Sometimes when someone arrives late to a group session they will just jump straight into whatever the rest of the group are doing to avoid standing out and being teased by their peers. The warm-up must be seen as an integral part of every training session. It is during this phase of training when we should be gently increasing our heart rate, warming our core temperature up and activating our smaller stabiliser muscle groups. Once these smaller muscles are warmed up correctly they act as a form of scaffold for our larger muscles like our hamstrings and glutes. With this scaffolding in place and correctly activated, your larger muscles now gain the ability to perform at a higher level thus reducing the risk of injury and improving overall performance with less strain and effort.
I am sure you are aware that the muscles in your shoulders and legs play a large part in every form of exercise you take. So, in order to harness the power of your shoulders to the power of your legs it is vital that the connection between these two points be as strong as possible. There is no point in spending lots of time developing a very powerful upper and lower body and leaving a weak connection in the middle to try and harness and convert the power available into smooth, efficient movement. This is where the development of a strong set of core muscles can seriously improve everything you do, not just during exercise but in life also. By training a strong core you will be able to harness the full power created by your arms and legs and convert it into smooth, fluid, efficient movement. Being able to provide your lower back with a strong set of supporting muscles will greatly improve your overall performance on and off the track.
Please make sure you leave enough time at the end of your workout to cool down correctly. Because your body has been working hard during your training session it has built up toxins in the muscles and has depleted its energy reserves. This is where a quick change of mindset is required. Training is not over until the cool down phase is complete. In the same way some people skip the warm-up because they are late, others will skip the cool down because they have to be somewhere else. In order to perform well and get the most out of every session you need to make sure that you are not turning up for a session feeling tired with stiff, sore muscles. This is the fastest way to halt training progress and will eventually lead you to overtrain - the biggest cause of injuries.
In summary - Break your training into 4 phases
Phase 1: Smart, thorough warm-up
Phase 2:Train your core muscles
Phase 3: Commence your current training routine
Phase 4: Cool down correctly
More information on the topics above and my full training program can be found in my book Quantum Flow Running. You can also access my Daily Core Training Video here.
My new book Quantum Flow Running goes on sale 27/06/18.