4 Important Things That I Always Tell My Clients
Being new to running is both exciting and liberating!
The thought of being able to move with your bodies natural gait, to feel ‘normal’ of sorts, and perhaps rekindle that love of jogging that you had as a teenager. It’s all an expression of athleticism, and for some, they can’t get started soon enough!
For most however, the mere thought of running is less enticing than going to the dentist.
Power walking is ‘doable’ but, let’s face it, when you move from power walking into your first 20 running steps there really is nothing better. In this post I’ll share some of my top tips that i use with guests at Whistler Fitness Vacations in preparation for their first few running sessions.
Check Running Shoes
To excel in sports – or at least get started safely – the right training and gear are needed. So often people disregard running or power walking as a cheap sport, where ‘any old pair of training shoes will do.’ This simply is not the way to go!
The ideal shoe is really important, not just when you’re new to running but to anyone who wants to get the most out of their workouts. Good fitting shoes will both protect your feet and support them from injuries. Overweight people especially put a lot of pressure on their heels when power walking or running, so it’s important to speak with the experts at an athletic shoe store before buying. Don’t buy off the internet! Get your feet properly sized, checked and then have an expert recommend the right brand for you.
Why The Right Shoe Is Important
The most common cause of Achilles Tendon injury is using the wrong kind of shoes. Using shoes that don’t provide support to the soles of the feet can greatly increase the possibility of Achilles Tendonitis. The suitable running shoes are the ones that don’t give undue stress on your tendons, while also allowing you to use your muscles efficiently.
It all starts with the right gear. If your shoes are too stiff at the ball of your foot and you are unable to bend your sole properly, the calf muscles will have to work much harder to lift the heel off the ground, therefore putting unnecessary stress on the Achilles.
Another no-no; shoes that rub on the back of your heel! Ill-fitted shoes can cause swelling of the Achilles Tendon, resulting in mild-to-severe pain and injury.
Increase Flexibility In Calves And Hamstrings
Despite what we know about stretching being the key preventative protocol for running, many still give a five-minute quick fix. That’s not enough time to increase your range of motion and actually prepare your muscles for work.
Plan your exercise time accordingly, where you have an hour that’s filled with forty-five minutes running and fifteen stretching… not a one hour run, jump in the car, and back to the shower.
Seth O’Neill, a physiotherapy lecturer at the University of Leicester (who’s currently researching achilles problems) explains the importance of strengthening the calf muscles:
“When it comes to the Achilles, the capacity of the calf muscles to shock absorb and protect the tendon is key. Strength training for the calf muscles will make them better coordinated and stronger, so they protect the Achilles Tendon during running.
For normal endurance running, as opposed to sprinting, most people think it’s about the thigh and bum muscles, but the key is the calf muscles. The calf will generate forces from the soleus – the deep muscle – of eight times your bodyweight and from the gastrocnemius – the superficial muscle – of three times bodyweight. They do the majority of the force propulsion for running.”
Ease Into Running Slowly!
To really reap the benefits, ease into running safely. If you train on your own and find yourself experiencing Achilles Tendon injury, go to a doctor. They may recommend that you keep your heels lifted in whatever shoe you wear at all times during the healing process. A quarter inch is fine – you can insert it into any kind of shoe, from skate to dress fashion – and avoid going barefoot until your injury heals.
Your doctor will likely also advise to ice, massage, cut back mileage, and get into physiotherapy. This can really help.
For runners who are 30 or more pounds outside of healthy weight range, I recommend avoiding air/gel filled heels and cushioning. Although they may be the latest trend in athletic shoe design, some experts speculate that they are only resistant to deformation due to the fact that once the heel contacts it often sinks continually lower.