“One run can change your day, many runs can change your life”.
Running is one of life’s great joys, but when you’re starting out, it can take discipline, dedication, and commitment. Yet it doesn’t need to take sacrifice. Maybe you get the feeling that runners have to get up early, eat appropriately, and balance the time for training and personal and work time.
And while that’s true for some people, how far your running takes you depends on you. Dabble in it or get into a regular schedule, only you know what you can manage at this time of your life. Here’s how to stay safe, while still being effective, no matter how much (or how little) you run.
But with all things good seem to have a flip-side. In running, one of them is getting through the beginner stages safely. Being a beginner (or heavier) runner can increase the risk of Achilles Tendon injury. Connecting your calf muscles to the heel bone, the Achilles is the largest tendon in the body that commonly takes the impact in movements where you quickly pivot or change speed such as running.
The Achilles Tendon, Explained
Achilles tendons act as our shock absorber when we are running. It aids our foot movement to the demands of our body. The faster we run, the greater the force that it exerts. Breakdown happens when the demand overcompensates the ability of the tissues to adjust.
The usual causes of Achilles Tendon injury are overtraining, changing shoes, and a change in the running surfaces. At my weight loss retreat in Whistler, I teach women how to run with adaptive form. Many of them had spent many years of their lives with the disabling belief that they needed to lose weight first, before starting a running routine. Or that their knees, ankles, back, hips etc. were ‘just too damaged’ or sore to even think about running.
That all changes when I show them the right way to ease into it, and it’s not that complicated! Below are some of the key things I share with them. Achilles tendon injuries can be prevented!
Build Up Hill And Speed Training Slowly
Despite its large size, you still need to prepare and strengthen your Achilles Tendon In order to run safely
Seth O’Neill, a physiotherapy lecturer at the University of Leicester highlighted the importance of slowly building up your routine runs in order for the muscles to adjust.
“The key is to make sure your calf muscles are nice and strong, but the challenge that you’ve got as a runner is to fit that into your training regime. As long as it’s built to that level gradually, you will cope – the tendon and the muscles will adapt and become more robust.”
O’Neill recommends averaging out your workload from the past four weeks and comparing it with your workload in the current week. There shouldn’t be a big jump from average to current workload.
While many urban runners use flatter, concrete routes with some hills thrown in here and there, trail runners have hills coming at them much more frequently. Start by walking up these hills. Then, jog. Run these hills only after you see improvement.
The same things go with speed work – sprint at the pace that you consider to be ‘all-out effort’ but only once you have built up to being able to go at that level.
Always remember, you don’t have to be great to start running, but you have to start – to be great! See you on the trails.