Some people think it’s just the case of going out and run but the human body is like a car and needs to be maintained and serviced; otherwise you will get injured.
Now it’s easy for me to say this now, but to be honest with the recent move I have slacked on this aspect of training and you guessed it. It has come back to bite me on the ass. I am currently taking a few days to a week off of running due to injury.
So one of the tools that a lot of runners use is a foam roller and it seems like a simple piece of equipment, but it manages to work through the tightness and knots in your legs. This is a key piece of equipment, because you will get knots and tightness as in affect of every time you take a step, you’re loading your whole body weight onto your feet and legs; plus extra pressure from the speed or terrain you’re running on.
A foam roller is pretty simple to use and basically works with your own body weight to move through the tightness and knots. There are various shapes and sizes, and you should pick one or two that work for you as everyone is different.
Another tool that I use is a golf ball and this can be used on your foot to massage and break up scar tissue and knots under the foot. Some people use tennis balls as well, but I find golf balls are quite hard and work the foot harder. They are inexpensive and I can fit one in my work drawer, so I can work on my feet, when I have the odd spare few minutes at work. Similar to the golf ball, I also have a spiky massage ball which is again hard construction but because of the spikes gets deeper into the muscles, tendons etc to release tension and pressure etc.
I also have a wooden massage tool which does look like a medieval torture device but is great for digging right into my legs and releasing tightness and knots. I won’t lie it does hurt sometimes but it loosens me up ready for the next run.
Also following my runs I like to do post run stretching. Years ago I would do pre run stretching but recent studies suggest pre run stretching can actually lead to injury. There are people for and against and well I’d rather not risk it and I tend to find the first 1 kilometer or so is my warm up and so don’t need that pre run stretch.
I had started yoga earlier in the year as this is great for strength and stretching for runners, but then life got in the way and it ended up on the back burner. Following my current injury, I am phasing it back in again. If you do a quick google you will find plenty of instructions, pictures etc for yoga poses for runners that really do help.
The other good thing about yoga is, it is not as hard on the body as running, but it’s a great work out, and I find it really dials you into a more chilled out and relaxed state during the workout and for a little while afterwards.
In respect to strengthening I try to use my own bodyweight as you can do the exercises at home saving money on gym fees, and I feel it’s just as good a workout as using weights. So the routine I normally follow is lunges, single leg lunges, squats, one legged squats, plank, one armed plank, press ups and sit ups. I plan to add some resistance work similar to TRX and hopefully in the future get a large tire for dragging on short runs and also for flipping to increase strength.
Some people get put off that working on strength will turn them into some pumped up bodybuilder and don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being a body builder. However you can increase strength and muscle strength to help with running without getting a lot bigger. People used to just considered running by itself but with the growing popularity of ultra-racing and trail racing, it’s key to have good overall strength and not just good running legs.
Another way to strengthen your body is to cross train, so adding swimming or cycling or both to your routine can help to maintain aerobic performance but without the hard impact of adding extra running miles to your weekly routine. I am hoping at some stage to get a turbo trainer, so that I can ride my bike indoors through the winter and reap some cross training benefits. My swimming is not the best and I have yet to check out the local pool, but hope to get there sooner rather than later.