Couch to 5km Part 1Sep 27, 2022
If the 2020's has shown us anything, it’s that we crave outdoor exercise, fresh air, movement, endorphins and that feeling of being ‘out of breath, but satisfied.’
Running is cheap, simple, and a born skill with minimal equipment (putting aside the carbon plated super shoes and the data tracking devices.) It makes you feel alive and strong and…. well, it’s legal and open which is definite plus in these 2020 times (Melbourne I see you and I feel it too.)
Running niggles have been my most common injury complaint during iso/quari/rona plague, whatever you may call it. In my opinion, the reason is multifactorial. It’s not because we have the wrong shoes, the wrong technique or terrible fitness (these are all facets to look at) but, in my opinion not the primary cause of injury. It is OVERLOAD.
I am the first to admit, running is addictive, inspiring and can be all consuming. You feel great, you reach your goal time/distance and then next minute: “I need to go faster, further, and more frequently.” WRONG!
If you have not been a runner previously and just launch into it all guns blazing, there WILL be carnage. You may get away with it a few days, weeks, heck even months but if you overload too quickly, I promise the cracks will start to form.
This is coming from someone who has had more bone stress injuries than fingers (and toes). If I had a superpower it would be: biting off more than I can chew and ending up in the pool.
THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE YOU!
There is no magic dosage for exact ‘start to run’ generically. It is not a chemical equation or a perfectly balanced cocktail, it is completely individual to YOU. However there a few things I recommend you consider before you grab your new trainers and head to the tan running track:
- WALK JOG. Running continuously is both tough and fraught with “form fatigue” errors. If your fitness is not “running fit,” don’t force it. ENJOY it. Keep good form by staying fresh and pushing the volume boundaries. Initially, less is more is what I advise. I suggest a decent walk warm up of at least 10mins, and then start an easy interval session of walk/jogs. This may be jog 1min, walk 3mins and repeat 5 times, then power walk home. Don’t underestimate the power of walking, it is the precursor to running and the more and better we are at it, the easier running will be as we build.
- OFFLOAD: If you are not “a runner” or have had a break from it for over 6weeks, consecutive days of running is not recommended. Even if you pull up fresh and are keen to go again, don’t. Walk, swim, ride your bike, do Pilates or yoga. Cross train. Don’t stop moving and sit back with a 6 pack (actually you can if you want, no judgement- it's 2020 do what you gotta do.) I suggest moving in a non-running way. The impact of running will be being absorbed without you knowing it in the next 24-48 hours post session. Tendons, bones, ligaments and muscles will be adapting from load and in a 'fragile state'. You may not feel it, but it is physiology. If you skate on thin ice, you go through. Running on fragile adapting tissue causes an overload in inflammation and wait for it, injury. Not always, but if not conditioned properly, eventually. Day on/off is very wise.
- STRENGTH TRAIN: Wisely. When you first start running, simple, body weight exercises is perfect. You don’t need to buy a weight belt and kettlebells to get a tough, effective and functional strength workout. This program should focus heavily on lumbo-pelvic strength (glutes, pelvic musculature and deep core stability), foot + ankle strength, and spinal mobility. I am obviously biased, but a running specific Pilates mat workout is the perfect supplement to your new walk jog program. You will work on all of the above areas in a flow sequence. You can turn your mind off and trust the work and the reap the injury preventative benefits. Game changing.
There are many more areas to think about such as surface, footwear and nutrition, but my top three above will definitely (ironically) keep you out of the physio clinic if implemented properly. Physio should be there if you need it along the way but if you find yourself there every week or two, you need to look at your load program.
Next week, I will give you an example program of what I would give a ‘couch to 5km runner’. It won’t be flashy or fancy, bit it will be effective and you won’t be booking in for me to dry needle your calves or organize a scan of your foot if you follow the plan!
Stay tuned, stay healthy and get ready for part 2 "couch to 5km"