How to hit your running goals while preventing injury, tip 3: Key training principles

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

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) and broken that goal down into actionable and digestible smaller steps (tip #2), it’s important to create a plan that harnesses key training principles to make you a better and less injury-prone runner.

That brings me to...

Tip # 3 – Key Training Principles

Having a training plan is vital for improving your running performance while preventing injury.  I focus on four training related principles to make your training more effective while reducing your injury-risk:

1 – Running progression

Avoid overloading, aka “too much too soon”. The general protocol for this is not to increase your weekly mileage by greater than 10%.

Over-training is, by far, the most common reason that I see clients get hurt.

2 – Training type (aerobic and anaerobic)

Combine both aerobic (think longer, endurance training) and anaerobic (think shorter burst, intervals) training into your regiment.

Each type of training targets different body adaptations (central vs peripheral) and combining both will improve your recovery while increasing your overall running performance.

3 – Strength training

Muscles play a critical role in preventing injury and keeping you healthy by absorbing shock, taking the load off your joints, and maintaining your running mechanics.

This is particularly true for runners as running puts a significant load on your body, with some muscles taking up to 9 times your body weight. 

Running specific strength training keeps your muscles functioning appropriately by strengthening them and improving their endurance. This means better running performance while decreasing your injury risk.

4 – An effective Warm-up  

An appropriate warm-up provides multiple benefits:

  • Improved performance due to increased muscle fiber performance, better energy use, increased power output, improved force development, and more efficient oxygen uptake.

  • Improved muscle activation aka “post-activation potentiation”. What this means is that when you activate muscles through specific exercises, it leads to greater activity in your motor neuron pathways, resulting in subsequently stonger and higher quality muscle contractions.
  • Improved mental preparedness via increased visualization and concentration of the task at hand.  Imagine your warm-up as the “calm before the storm”, it allows you time to not only physically ramp-up but also mentally ramp-up to the task at hand.

If you’re new to running or simply not comfortable creating your own plan, I highly suggest finding a trusted running coach to create a running plan tailored to you and finding a trusted running musculoskeletal expert who understands the specific demands of running, can assess your strength, mobility, and mechanics, and then can create a specific plan for you.

In the next post, tip #4, I'll get into holistic/external factors (sleep, stress, nutrition, shoes). 

As always, thanks for reading - until next time.


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