Tracey McCarthy, Merrell brand ambassador
The warm up phase of your training is important for a number of reasons:
- You take your mind from day to day activities and prepare it for the work ahead
- You slowly build your heart rate up, in a safe way avoiding a sudden shock
- You start to fill your muscles with much needed, oxygenated blood, ready for extra movement
- You prepare your energy systems for a change of gear, so that your fuel can be used to power your muscles effectively
So many injuries could be prevented by some simple stretches. The best time to stretch is after the warm up and at the end of your run when your joints and muscles are lubricated. Try to move through each muscle and perform a stretch that lasts around 10 seconds each. If you are short of time, why not stretch while you are having your recovery drink or during your shower.
Running too fast, without a warm up is a sure fire way to eventually pick up an injury. Ease your body gently towards faster running to avoid injuries. Patience is important, as a simple thing like starting slowly can avoid an injury that could put you back months, or worse, stop you running altogether. Additionally, if you have had time off from running don’t assume your body will be able to cope with the training you were doing before. Doing too much running commonly leads to injuries, so ensure you have a plan that helps you build mileage and speed slowly.
Too much running on tarmac wreaks havoc on knees and ankle joints. If you suffer from pain in these areas try to run on the grass, or better still do some trail running. Mixing up your terrain will help to minimise trauma to muscles, tendons and joints so try to include it in your weekly schedule.
Strength training in the form of lunges, squats, deadlifts and core work is very beneficial to runners, not only to maintain muscle but also to strengthen the body and prevent injury. Try to include at least 1 session a week to start increasing your strength and protecting your muscles, bones, joints and other soft tissue.
If you are running in the heat, or are prone to heavy sweating, make sure you wear breathable fabric to reduce friction from fabric. If it’s cold or wet then wear gear that will keep you dry and comfortable.
Also consider using Vaseline and/or plasters on sensitive areas such as nipples and around the ankle where the foot touches the trainer.
If you have new trainers, try to walk in them for a couple of days before running to soften the fabric. When you do start running in them, wear socks that come up above the ankle line to protect your heels from blisters.
If it is sunny, wear some UV protection. Often when we run, we don’t feel our skin burning due to sweat keeping us cool, but if you don’t protect yourself you risk serious harm from the sun’s rays!