In this episode, I cover some common questions I hear often which include:
How often should I run?
How far should I run?
Should I do a run-walk method?
During the first 4 episodes of the podcast launch we have been talking about the SPARK Blueprint and we’ve been discussing five principles. We’ve discussed the foundation of how to run stronger and healthier without injuries by strengthening 5 KEY RUNNING muscles. Then we talked about adding plyometric or jump exercises into our training as well as the importance of training on one leg with your foot on the ground. The 4th tip for healthy running is taking care of your muscles and tendons that log all those miles!
In this 6th episode of the Healthy Runner Podcast I wanted to cover the 5th and final tip for Healthy Running which is training smart with proper progression of your running!
This is one element to staying healthy as a runner that does not relate to your physical characteristics. In other words, it is not related to your inherent muscles imbalances that you may have. This does not relate to ways you can change your body as a runner whether it is improving your muscle strength or becoming more flexible, check out these one and done workout tips.
Strength and flexibility are the attributes I have covered during my career working as a physical therapist in the traditional clinic model. Now at SPARK Physical Therapy we focus on the “whole runner” and not only address your physical characteristics, but also the other contributing factors to bringing you success as a runner. This could include your training, sneaker selection, nutrition, sleep, or mental mindset. That was also the reason why I wanted to start the Healthy Runner Facebook Group and now this Healthy Runner Podcast to discuss you as a runner from a “whole person” standpoint. Your nutrition, training, and mindset all play a role in keeping you healthy running doing what you love! Read more about carbofix benefits.
5 Training Tips
These strategies and tips are the key reasons why I have been able to help thousands of runners throughout my career get back to running without feeling that achy knee, foot, or hamstring.
I have broken these down into 5 training tips you can implement starting today! Leading into the first tip…I want you to think about how many days a week do you run?
Tip #1: Run At least 3 Days A Week
In order for your body to adapt to the physical demands of running you need to start thinking about running more throughout the week. Your training frequency (how many times you run per week) is determined by how long you have been running and what event you are training for (5k vs. marathon). In general, you want to train at least 3 days per week if you are new to running.
For those more experienced runners with some races under your belt then you want to think about running 4 or 5 days a week. These don’t need to be long run but at least 20-30 minute run or walk/run sessions. Also, don’t forget to dedicate one day to a longer run (40 min-1 hour) on the weekend. These will especially be important for training for the half and full marathon distances.
Tip #2: Slow Down!
You know the saying…“slow and steady wins the race” and in the case of building up your tolerance to running and preventing overuse injuries this is certainly the case! Now we are referring to your training intensity or how intense your workouts are. As a beginner runner, you want to run/ jog at a conversational pace, meaning you can talk to someone running next to you. If you cant maintain a conversation then you are going too hard. Do this for your first 3 months running at minimum as you develop your base running fitness level.
Run slow or even walk first before running. Take walking breaks as needed. Focus on increasing your run time or your distance in gradual increments as opposed to your running pace (or how fast you are going).
The important point is to build up your running fitness and allow your body the time to adapt to the stresses of running. Therefore, consistency is key to developing a routine that becomes a habit. Apparently, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic (66 days to be exact per Google).
The run-walk method
The run-walk method is a great way for new runners to get started! The method was pioneered by a very famous former Olympian and coach Jeff Galloway for beginners but he also advocates this approach for experienced runners to improve their race times believe it or not. Contrary to what you might think, the technique doesn’t have you walk when you get tired; it has you take brief walking breaks when you’re not tired. You can pick whatever ratio of walking and running that works for you. Some suggested combinations include:
The thought is taking breaks makes marathon or half-marathon training less grueling and reduces the risk of injury because it gives your muscles regular recovery time during a long run. I think this a great way for anyone starting to run to allow their body to adapt to the forces and demands of running.
Tip #3: Gradually Build Your Training Volume
I am talking about the slope of the line or steepness (gradually building up volume) when you visually see the increase in your training volume.
It is imperative that you follow the 10- 20 percent weekly volume (total work you do) increase. You need to increase your mileage or time gradually. Sticking to the 10 to 20 percent increase rule helps you avoid doing too much, too soon, and too fast. A slow, gradual build reduces the risk of injury. I am no math genius but 10 miles one week then becomes 11 miles the next!
Tip #4: Rest and Recover
Rest and cross training on your days off from running is very important to recovering from all the miles you are logging while running. Don’t feel guilty…your body needs it after all the ground contacts and forces that are transmitted from your foot up your leg and throughout your body.
For the majority of runners I help, less is more especially if you have a history of overuse running injuries such as chronic tendonitis (achilles, knee, hamstring) or stress fractures. So if you are training 5-7 days a week and are logging > 4-5 miles each run you need to consider allowing your body some off days and implementing the first 4 episodes of the Healthy Runner Podcast. Adding in strength training for your running muscles, training plyometrically, and taking care of your muscles with self care!
Tip #5: Find The Right Training Plan For You!
Everyone has a different body and every runner has different goals and differing levels of running fitness. This final tip of training to run relates to you finding the right training plan based on your current fitness level…today. Therefore, if you haven’t run all winter and you are starting a half marathon training plan you should not pick one with speedwork in it that requires you to do intervals, tempo runs, or heavy hill workouts. Unless you want to get injured during this training program! Consistency in your running and your training is key! You need to train consistently with proper progression implementing the 5 tips in this article.