How to hit your running goals while preventing injury, tip 4: Holistic & external factors

(If you haven’t yet, click here to read and/or watch Tip #1Tip #2, and tip #3)

Whether you’re a high level competitive runner or an amateur runner who uses the sport as an outlet or you’re just getting into running – we all have certain goals and milestones we’d like to hit.

My question for you is this:  How do you set yourself up for success?

With all my running clients, I go through a detailed 5-part process that harnesses the science of behavior change, performance improvement, and injury prevention to help reach and surpass those goals.

(If you'd prefer to watch the vlog - click here.  If not, carry on!)

After you have set an overlying specific and measurable running goal (tip #1), broken that goal down into actionable and digestible smaller steps (tip #2), and integrated four key training principles (tip #3) – the next step is to:

Tip # 4 – Addressing Holistic & External Factors

There are four external variables that I emphasize when it comes to improving your running performance and preventing running injury:

  1. Sleep
  2. Stress
  3. Nutrition
  4. Shoes

Sleep

Sleep is foundational to everything else.  It aides in recovery, improves performance, makes you more resilient, decreases stress, amongst a slew of other things. 

If there’s one thing to focus on which can help everything else, it’s improving your sleep quality.

Stress

Stress, specifically chronic extended stress, affects performance, recovery, and injury-risk.  When you’re stressed, it causes:

  1. Increased muscle tension and tightness – impacting your movement
  2. Increased systemic inflammation – impacting your ability to recover
  3. Increased sensitivity to pain – changes your perception and threshold of injury, creating a vicious cycle of increased sensitivity leading to increased pain/injury leading to more sensitivity
  4. Increased sensitivity to stress –creates a vicious cycle of stress leading to a decreased tolerance to stress leading to more stress

Nutrition

Nutrition can impact all of your body systems.  We continue to learn more and more about the power and importance of your gastro-intestinal (GI) health and micro-biome as it relates to the rest of your body. 

A key aspect of nutrition is it’s role in systemic inflammation. Eating foods that don’t agree with your GI and micro-biome can result in increasing body-wide inflammation which biases you towards having pain and injury, increases your recovery times, and keeps you in an extended state of stress.

Additionally, all three of these aspects – sleep, stress, and nutrition - are connected and affect the other – for better or for worse. I'll be writing individually about each, including self-help tips and strategies.

Shoes

Shoes are always a hot and important topic in the running community.

With my clients, I’ll manually assess foot joint mobility, and foot, ankle, & lower body strength in order to give a personal shoe recommendation. 

Generally, the only indicator that has been found to matter in finding the “right shoe” for you is how comfortable you are in running in them. If the shoe isn’t comfortable while running, especially if it causes pain, then you need to find a different shoe.  

Find a running/shoe store that has a 30-60 day return policy for shoes (the good ones will) and keep returning pairs until you find one that is comfortable to run in.


That’s step 4.  In the next post I’ll go through the 5th and final step – how to assess progress.

As always, thanks for reading - until next time.


Fed up with aches, pains, injury, or stress? We'd love to help. Click the button below to discuss your questions & issues with our Doctor of Physical Therapy.  Together, we'll come up with a game plan to reach & surpass your goals.