Last week I was asked to write an article for the Evening Herald, with advice on how to stay healthy and injury free ahead of the big day. Here’s what I said!
“With the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon around the corner, excitement is increasing for participants and organisers alike. The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) will host a cool down area, massage tent, and quick assessment centre, and will also be helping race participants warm up and mentally prepare for the race.
There are many simple things you can do to help you get yourself to the start line, without risking getting sick or injured (although they might not be what you expected).
- Get a good night’s sleep! People who get less than 8 hours sleep per night are almost twice as likely to get injured and even more likely to get sick. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, sleeping in a dark, quiet room, and eliminate the use of smartphones, tablets and computers in the 2 hours leading up to bedtime.
- Manage stress– being stressed can prolong recovery from an existing injury, and can in itself cause pain. So if you are stressed, do what you know works for you to help manage it, or explore new stress management options.
- Eat well, stay hydrated, and avoid binge or excessive alcohol drinking – these all affect your recovery from exercise, and dramatically increase the risk of you getting sick. Be sure to eat some carbohydrate within an hour of exercising, and make sure you eat a breakfast every day, especially on the days you train.
- Take rest days from training – if you take 2 rest days per week (ideally not together), where you don’t run or walk, or do a different form of exercise such as cycling or swimming you are less likely to get injured than if you are running/walking every day.
- Apply the 10% rule –you should not increase your total weekly training volume by more than 10% per week (once you hit a total of 8km per week), anything higher than this and your risk of injury more than doubles!
- Alternate the surface you train on and vary the route.
- Don’t ignore an injury! The biggest risk factor for getting an injury is having previously been injured. So if you have suffered a previous injury that has not been dealt with properly, or are trying to ignore and run through an injury now, get yourself checked by a Chartered Physiotherapist to see what you can do to address it. Generally you can’t “run off” a running injury without making some changes first.
- Don’t make any big changes at the last minute, such as wearing running shoes you’ve never worn before (you’ll risk getting blisters), or trying out a new type of training.
- Wear good running shoes that fit you well, and that are not worn out. If you’ve done more than 300-400 miles in them, chances are you need to update them. Try not to switch styles before the race unless your current style is causing you problems.
- Strength training – not also does this reduce your risk of injury by almost 50%, but it also improves your performance. Exercises such as squats, planks, balance exercises and flexibility work are good to do a couple a times a week, although get some advice if you’ve never done that kind of exercise before or if you’re injured.
- Taper down your mileage in the last 8-14 days –don’t try to cram in any last minute training, your body needs to be fresh at the start line, and won’t reap much benefit from training in the last 2 weeks anyway. If you want more information on tapering, go to www.iscp.ie/maintain-your-health/sports-training-and-injury-video-tips
- Warm-up! This gets the blood flowing around your muscles, loosens your joints and soft tissues to help you run better. There will be Chartered Physiotherapists leading the warm-up on the day. For your training, whether walking or jogging, start slower than your race pace for the first 5-10 mins. A common misconception is that people need to spend a lot of time stretching before they run- in fact, static stretching is more part of your cool-down and recovery.
- Cool-down and take a proper recovery- foam rolling, and a 10 min bath in cold water (if you’re up to it!) can help with muscle soreness after exercise, and massage and stretching can help your muscles feel looser. Chartered Physiotherapists will be there at the finish to show you how to do a cool-down.
For more information on recovery, tapering and hydration go to www.iscp.ie/maintain-your-health
You can find your local Chartered Physiotherapist at
Catherine Cradock is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Level 3 Accredited Sports Physiotherapist based in East Coast Physio, Ashford, Co. Wicklow.
www.eastcoastphysio.ie or call 0404-49781.”