September – Week #1: Making Injury Prevention Second Nature

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Did you know that 70-80% of runners get injured every year? That’s higher than pro football!

Being trapped in this injury cycle is demoralizing. It makes us want to quit and wonder why we put in all this work…only to watch it go down the drain as we sit on the sidelines with an injury.

Just imagine how much more you’d love running (not to mention, how much faster you’d run) if you could simply prevent injuries?

September Week #1 – Why do we need Prehab and what does it include?

Injury is tough but there is an upside to getting hurt if we choose to see and do something about the underlying issues.

Facing an injury is a little like tough love. It can serve as an eye opener for us and is usually a great opportunity to test our willpower and improve the things which most runners neglect. Think about when you realized you needed to do more than just run…it’s when you were injured and could no longer run.

When a runner gets injured what is the first thing they turn too? Cross training…right? Runners don’t usually fall in love with cross training, we do it because we love to run and it is the quickest way to stay in running fitness. Unfortunately, if we overload ourself with aerobic cross training but neglect  to devote time to the strength and structure of our body, it can also make us more susceptible to future injury.

We can’t run…so our first thought is to spend lots of time on the bike, in the pool or doing some other type of cardio workout. While that will keep the weight off and help us maintain our cardiovascular fitness, we lose the range of motion specific to running and the power needed to run fast. We fail to get stronger so we’re able to avoid re-injuring ourselves once we are able to run again.  We get back to running quickly, but a couple weeks down the road get we have another injury or the old pain is coming back again.

What does Prehab include?

  1. Strength Training
  2. Dynamic and Static Stretching
  3. Foam Rolling
  4. Recovery Runs

Strength Training: It’s easy to spend so much time cross training that we’re too physically and mentally tired to spend time building strength. To get in our strength work we MUST have a plan, just like our running plan. We don’t want to get up and start working out, deciding right then what we feel like doing that day.

This week our plan is to follow along with the video below three different times during the week. You can do this any day of the week but be smart about when you do it. Avoid strength the day before a tough speed workout or a long run. PLAN AHEAD and make smart decisions. Think back to past challenges…when did we do our leg work? Why did we do it on those days? There has always been a purpose behind what we do, why we do it and when we do it…consider that when you are planning your workouts this week.

Dynamic and Static Stretching: In addition to strength training, it’s important that we continue our dynamic and static stretches each day, even when it’s an off day from running. This will help us improve our strength, flexibility and stability. Dynamic stretches include leg swings, hip hurdles, and even lunges and squats. We can fit these moves into our every day life by getting up and doing a few squats and lunges as we walk to the bathroom or kitchen, or by balancing on one leg while brushing our teeth. We can multitask my watching TV and stretching at the same time. These little additions will help us gain core strength and stability.

Dynamic Stretching: Leg Swings, Hip Hurdles, lunges and squats

Static Stretching:

  1. 7 Key Stretches for Runners
  2. Yoga for Runners – Unknot Yourself
  3. Yoga for Runners – Tight Hips and Legs
  4. Yoga Poses for Runners

Foam rolling: A large proportion of running injuries stem from muscle tightness leading to our biomechanics being restricted and causing alterations in our running gait. The most effective home treatment is foam rolling. Devices like the stick are good, but a foam roller is more effective because we can utilize our body weight to apply pressure to the muscles. We can do this every single day.

Imbalances, even just a fraction of an inch in how each foot lands, can lead to injuries and often the area that hurts isn’t the real problem. Loosening up the muscles, tissues and fascia around the areas in pain allow us to move more freely which prevents some easily avoidable injuries.

Roll every angle of every muscle in your legs, glutes and hips. Basically all the areas that feel tight or sore from running, plus areas that may feel fine but are starting to feel tight.

Below is a foam rolling demonstration that takes less than 5 minutes. I would prefer you spend more than 5 minutes with your roller but you have to start somewhere! As you start to get used to using your roller more often, you will see that it hurts less and less. You might even start to like it!

Recovery runs: Every run should have a purpose! Generally that’s either a long run, speed work, hill work, or a recovery run. Recovery runs should be done at a very slow pace, while still focusing on maintaining good form.

As the name suggests, recovery runs help our legs recover from harder efforts, flushing the lactate out of our muscles and increasing blood flow to the muscles that have been broken down on harder or longer runs. This helps to get the required nutrients to the muscles to rebuild and adapt optimally. Recovery runs are really important. But it’s also very easy to overdo our recovery runs. Recovery should be slower, shorter and easier than ALL our other workouts. Watching our heart rate or literally walking or run/walking 1-2 miles can be just the thing we need to feel good and be ready to run harder again the following day.

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One thing is for sure, recovery is king and if we take care of our body, getting out the door for our next run isn’t as difficult.

Prehab (strength, dynamic and static stretching, foam rolling and recovery runs) is the key to allowing us to continue to train and race.

A healthy regimen of foam rolling, self-massage, and mobility and flexibility stretches keeps everything feeling good as we head out the door for a run. Try adding some rolling and mobility exercises in the evening before going to bed. Instead of using the first couple miles of a run just to work the kinks out, we can do it at home by rolling before our run. This also makes our runs so much more enjoyable.

September – Week #1 Recap:

For the first week of September, we are learning our first strength routine which focuses on our hips, glutes and quads. This is a 20 minute workout from Jason Fitzgerald’s training arsenal that we will do three times every week. You can fit this in any day during the week, preferably before or after a run but get it done even if it’s on an off running day. Throw in a daily plank and wall sit, dynamic and static stretches and DAILY foam rolling and you are one step closer to a strong running form!

Week #1 Plan:

  • Daily Plank & Wall Sit – don’t cheat yourself by cutting these basic strength exercises short!
  • Daily Dynamic and Static Stretching
  • Complete 3 times this week – ITB Strength & Rehab Routine (follow along with the video)
  •  Daily Foam Rolling

That’s it Crew. Three 20 minute strength routines focused specifically on our hips, glutes and quads, daily planks and wall sits, daily dynamic and static stretching & daily foam rolling.

Believe it or not, speed and hill workouts are forms of strength routines. We’ll talk about this more later but plan ahead to fit in this week’s speed work and throw in some hills when you can.

Speed Work: This week’s speed workout is a fun fartlek sprint ladder. Farletks or “speed play” is normal unstructured but this workout gives you a plan to follow while keeping it short enough to keep you from getting nervous and skipping the workout. Give it a shot and see how going a little faster during one of your weekly runs makes you feel awesome and boosts your confidence!

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“If you think you have no time for prevention work, you’ll sooner or later have to find time for injuries.” – Jason Fitzgerald


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