Running is doable for everyone: it’s comfy, fun, cheap and it fuels your need for challenges. Having said that, these challenges need to be realistic and to consider your physical limitations, specially if you’ve begun to compete at an advanced age. It is key to stick to a planned training schedule, designed by an specialist in Physical Education and adapted to the length and level of your planned race.
Physiotherapy (PT) supplements this plan with therapeutical exercises whose aim is to prevent overloads and injury-inducing strains, as well as to enhance your recovery and to set you on track again. Every runner has a different capacity for exercising. Hence, an individual assessment is paramount. However, here go a few practical tips to orient your training routines:
The weeks before the race
- Train over terrain akin to the upcoming race. Running one day on unsurfaced trail and another in asphalt can lead to INJURY due to maladjustment.
- Use appropriate footwear. In case of using brand new shoes, adapt progressively to them.
- Visit your PT specialist to seek treatment for any discomforts you may have. In their absence, visit him or her as well for preventive therapy (muscle discharge, articular assessment, tailored stretching, proprioceptive exercises, eccentric routines for damaged fibers, running technique tips).
You don’t need to engage in PT every single day, but once every 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the intensity of your training. By doing so, you will prevent possible injuries. It is always a mistake to wait until the injury self heals as the natural tendency of your body to compensate may wipe away the pain while leading to more severe problems further down the line.
- Muscle discharge routines: they need to be performed at the very least 4 days before the race. They are discouraged in the 3 days preceding the event.
- Invisible training: respect your sleeping hours, take care of your nutrition, schedule some off days and hydrate properly. The most common injuries among amateur runners are caused by overextertion.
- Stretch the most important muscle groups involved in your sport: stretching is key to success in running, regardless of the length and intensity of the course: trail, half marathon or marathon. You need to allow for at least 10-15 minutes of stretching after every training session. You can mix this with proprioceptive routines of the lower limbs or power boosting eccentric exercises.
After the race
- After the competition do not stop abruptly. Relax a little by walking, storing up liquids and giving your muscle fibers a break before some intensive stretching (at least 10-20 min.)
- After this interval, stretch your heavily exercised muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, soleus, gluteus and psoas.
- Once stretched, follow the recommendations of the PTs assisting the race. They will assess the status of your muscles and joints. If you have not suffered from muscle cramps during the race feel free to use the iced pools before entering the treatment area.
- The day after and during the coming week, it is wise to exercise gently (walking, easy running or swimming). The goal is to resume normal training a few weeks after the event.
- Visit your PT on the weeks following the race. You may thing that your legs are back to normal after 48/72 hours, but remember that during a high-intensity trail running race muscle fibers tend to suffer micro-tears which in some cases occur without pain. Runners wrongly ignoring this fact might be tempted to resume intensive training, only to be injured in the process.
Antonio González Hernández. Licensed PT Col. 1288
Jose Antonio Guillen Elvira. Licensed PT Col. 1678
Ivan Batista Santiago. Licensed PT Col. 1650
Concepción Cardona Hernández. Licensed PT Col. 666