Category Archives: Injury

Running 101: Indoor Workout Alternatives

Winter.  Summer.  Each comes with its own set of weather based challenges.  From high temperatures to icy roads anyone can get forced into an indoor workout once in a while.  While it might seem like the dreaded treadmill is your only option there are plenty of alternative choices that are equally as effective at working you out.  As long you’re not ditching all your miles trying one of these alternatives will keep you safely inside and ensure a quality workout.

Water running.  If you have access to a pool water running can be a great option.  Frequently used as a tool for injured runners to stay in shape while the heal, running in deep water with the aid of a floatation device is a great alternative to dangerous outdoor conditions.  Pushing through the water will strengthen muscles and hip joints while still getting your cardio in.

Strength training.  Every runner needs strength training.  It provides tons of benefits from increased endurance to better form and faster times.  There are thousands of options for exercises and classes out there so find something you like.  Focus on higher intensity activities with weights on the heavier side to build running muscles.  Perform exercises that strengthen your entire body so it can support you for as long as you want to run.indoor workout

Plyometrics.  Plyometrics can fall under strength training or it can be performed on its own.  Jumping is a great way to build running power.  Whether it’s box jumps, jump rope or lateral bounds jumping around will get your heart rate up while making your quads, hamstrings, hips, knees, ankles and feet stronger.

Yoga.  With the massive variety of yoga classes available at most studios you’re sure to find something that will get your heart rate up.  Mobility is a big issue for lots of runners but having a good range of motion is incredibly important.  This indoor workout will help you stretch, open up joints and relax all at once.

Coach Meredith

Running 101: Injury Free Training

Every runner dreads injury.  Not only can it derail all of your recent training effort, it can be painful, uncomfortable and come with a potentially hefty medical bill.  The best way to keep logging miles without some sort of boo-boo or broken bone sidelining you is to use preventative care.  That can mean lots of things but here are Team ECRP‘s favorite ways to run injury free all year long.

Strength Train.  Strength training and cross training are extremely important elements of a training plan that helps you steer clear of injuries.  It will help you build muscle to support the pounding your body takes from running.  Strength training also makes you a more durable, injury resistant, athlete.  No matter what kind of strength training you choose make sure it’s something you like.  There are tons of options available out there from Crossfit to spin class so you’re guaranteed to find something fun.injury free

Listen.  Pay attention to what your body is telling you on a daily basis and you’ll be able to head off any injury before it happens.  Injury free running isn’t a dream.  It’s a reality if you’re able to pick up on what your body needs.  A day off?  An adjusted workout?  What about that massage you’ve been waiting for?  Stop waiting, rest up and tone it down.  No one know what your body needs better than you if you’re willing to listen to it.

Gear Check.  From chaffing to shin splints worn out, poorly fitted gear or improper gear can lead to disaster.  If you’re tackling trails, don’t wear your track spikes.  Be aware of training environment and dress appropriately.  Check in regularly with your clothing and especially your running shoes.  Crummy old shoes love creating problems from lack of support.  Stay injury free by having the right gear in the right condition.

Eat.  While every runner has different nutritional needs, eating is important.  Eating too much can lead to weight gain and numerous health issues while eating too little means your body can’t recover or build muscle like it wants to.  Poor nutritional habits can result in stress fractures, excess fatigue and bad workouts.  Consult a professional when designing your meal plan to make sure you’re taking in enough calories to stay injury free.

Coach Meredith

Are You Too Sick to Run?

Can I run?  Should I run?  Wondering if you’re too sick to run is a common questions for runners.  This is a tough question to answer.  Everyone reacts to feeling badly differently and we all recover at different speeds.  What one person can do with a slight head cold might not work for another.  Here are a few tips to help you determine if you should hit that session or stay inside.too sick to run

Weather.  Take into account the weather.  Bad weather isn’t going to help you get well.  Heading out into cold, windy or wet conditions when you’re feeling crummy isn’t a good idea.  Working out can put a lot of stress on your body so don’t make it even tougher but adding adverse outdoor conditions.  Have an indoor or cross training session instead of braving the elements if possible and don’t worry about one or two missed workouts.  You’re better off being healthy!

Move Around.  Sometimes getting up and moving around can help you feel better all on its own.  Increasing circulation and putting muscles to work will kick your body into repair mode.  We tend to be idle when we aren’t 100% and that can make things worse.  If it feels more like lack of motivation than actual sickness, get up and move.

The Neck Rule.  If your symptoms are above your neck, say a runny nose and mild headache, you’re good to go.  When symptoms present below your neck, such as coughing or weakness, you should probably skip out.  The single exception to this rule is a fever.  If your temperature is climbing, stay put and enjoy some chicken soup with a movie.

Activity Level.  Many tapering marathoners catch colds.  Their bodies are so used to repairing and fighting during months of training that when they take a breather the immune system goes bonkers.  You’re probably not too sick to run if that’s your situation.  You won’t be doing any incredibly challenging workouts anyway, so enjoy those few light weeks even if you’re not 100%.

Coach Meredith

Running 101: Do You Need an Off Season?

Professional runners across all disciplines get an off season.  Whether they’re choosing to compete at certain times of the year or their sport predetermines it, they are sure to take time off between seasons.  For those of us who aren’t professional athletes, however, options to compete carry on all year long.  You can run a 5k every single weekend if you want to but you can’t race one.

If you’re just out there to get moving every time you toe the line, odds are you aren’t training at a very high level.  You might run for fun.  You might just run with friends.  If, on the other hand, you’re an age group or contending athlete your training is intense.  The more intense each training cycle is the more likely you are to need an off season.  Here are three reasons why.off season

Recover.  Injury prevention is a big reason to take an off season.  Our bodies cannot continue indefinitely to be beat up the way they are when we train and race hard all year long.  Work load is dramatically decreased, especially running, during the off season.  Both our minds and bodies need a break from the constant barrage of stimuli that come along with a hard training cycle.

Repair.  Take the time now to deal with any lingering issues.  See that physical therapist you’ve been putting off.  Get massages and take bubble baths.  Build strength in the muscles that got you through race season.  Eliminate weak spots and work towards strength goals that will help you run faster next race season.

Plan.  Goal setting is incredibly important.  Use this down time to look back at how your season went.  Why did it go that way?  Put time and effort in determining what went well and what didn’t rather than nailing each workout.  Decide what races you’ll target during your next training cycle and how to best prepare for them.  Set realistic goals based on past performances.

Taking an off season can be a wonderful training tool and a welcome break.  It’s the time to relax and have fun while letting your body heal and prepare for the next cycle of hard work.

Coach Meredith

Running 101: Cross vs Strength Training

Often used interchangeably, cross training and strength training are something all runners should have in their training plan.  They are, however, not the same activities.  Cross training is any activity that increases or maintains your fitness while giving you a break from your most trained modality.  That means biking or kayaking if you’re a runner and swimming or rowing if strength trainingyou’re a cyclist.  It also means strength training.  Strength training is a type of cross training that makes your muscles stronger, not just give your body a variety of stimuli.

Cross training makes us better athletes.  It gives our bodies different stresses to respond to and leads to more flexibility with improved coordination.  It helps prevent injury, aids recovery and staves off boredom.  Having options other than running is also a must for when the weather gets ugly.  Too hot, too icy, too windy or too dangerous, you don’t need to miss a workout if you have a solid cross training option ready to go.

Strength training, on the other hand, is meant to make us stronger.  Building muscle mass isn’t strength trainingour goal as runners but being tougher is.  A weak core means poor posture and less speed.  Stronger legs generate more power and last longer in a race.  Unilateral strength exercises eliminate muscle imbalances and improve balance.

Runners should focus on exercises and activities that will strengthen running specific muscles while being sure not to neglect your incredibly important upper body.  Improve power with box jumps and jump rope.  Maintain good posture with push-ups and pull-ups.  Keep your core strong with planks and sit-ups.  Stay even with lunges and step-ups.

Any quality training plan will include both cross training and specific strength training.  They are key elements in building a quality athlete who is injury resistant and ready to compete successfully.

Coach Meredith

The Lowdown: Beer and Running

Beer and running naturally go together.  Runners love a post run cold one, right?  Races are sponsored by beer companies, we get complimentary ones after we cross the finish line, group runs meet at bars.  The list goes on but does that mean you should be throwing them back?  Check out these pros and cons to the post workout beer.beer and running

Socializing.  There’s one thing runners love as much as running and that’s talking about running.  Post race recaps in real time with your friends is something everyone looks forward to and they’re fueled by booze.  Isn’t that why running clubs were invented in the first place?  It’s true.  Downing a cold one is a great way to connect with connect with other runners.

Health benefits.  Beer can help you turn carbs into energy with its B vitamins and chromium while the flavonoids in dark beer counter cell damage to help prevent heart disease and cancer.  It can also help you relax and that’s all good news for pairing beer and running together.

Hydration.  Beer is alcoholic and alcohol is a diuretic.  That means it helps take water out of you without replacing it.  That’s bad news when your body is trying to work hard or repair itself.

Sleep.  Since beer dehydrates you, it makes you use the restroom more.  That means disrupted sleep and less quality recovery as you fail to reach deeper sleep states.  It might also make you snore, which only serves to make your sleep even lower in quality.  Poor sleep leaves us grumpy in the morning, too, making it harder to get a good workout in the next day.

Gains.  Human growth hormone is what makes us stronger and faster.  It is produced when we’re in those deep sleep states alcohol keeps us out of.  Alcohol will also delay almost any healing process so backing off when you’re injured is key for getting back in action.  The carbs in beer are automatically stored as fat since the sugar raises our blood sugar levels.  That leads to major potential for weight gain.

In the end it depends what your goals are.  Was it a recovery run just to get your legs moving?  Go ahead, drink that delicious post run beer but have a water with it.  Did you just destroy a brutal strength and speed session?  That beer might not be the best idea.  Knowing the effects of alcohol on your can help you might the right beer and running choices.

Coach Meredith

Running: Benefits of Shorter Steps

Taking shorter steps while running might sound counter intuitive.  For some people, it might actually be true.  For many others, especially a large percentage of recreational runners, shorter steps are the answer to many running form and injury issues.

Just about anyone who runs knows that ‘heel strike’ isn’t something you want to hear.  It has a really bad reputation that it doesn’t necessarily deserve.  It is, however, often equated with over striding.  Taking steps that are too big almost always results in heel striking while heel striking shorter stepson its own isn’t the horror you might have heard.  Shorter steps have several benefits over ones that are too big and here are four big ones:

Faster turnover:  Taking shorter steps means you’ll take more of them over the same distance.  That might sound like it also means more work, it actually means less.  If each step is shorter, your feet spend less time on the ground and less time on the ground means less time to get injured.  With your feet underneath you, you’ll also have forward momentum on your side and be able to use gravity to help you move along.

Stop stopping:  Landing with your foot out in front of you is the same as putting on the breaks.  shorter stepsReally.  It’s the same thing your dog does when they don’t want to go.  Put their center of gravity behind their feet, throw those paws forward and say ‘nope’.  Keeping your feet underneath you with faster turnover will keep your body moving forward with less effort.

Happy muscles.  When we kick that leg out in front during over striding, our quadriceps are doing the bulk of the work.  That muscle does not want to do that.  Ever tried to walk down stair after a marathon?  Yup.  It’s not fun.  Shorter steps fire up powerhouse glutes and hamstrings for happier running muscles.

Reduce injury risk:  Faster turnover, no braking and happy muscles mean a lower risk of injury.  You’ll get to use the elasticity of your Achilles, foot arch and calf to absorb the impact of each step rather than the bones and joints that hit when you over stride.  Once muscles are doing the work, instead of bones, risk for any number of injuries can decrease.  IT Band issues, knee pain, hip pain, ankle issues and general body soreness can all decline with proper stride length.

The best way to determine if you’re running with an appropriate stride length is to have a professional gait analysis.  A quality running coach will let you know if shorter steps can help you earn better form and faster times.

Coach Meredith

The Every Runner Foot Care Plan

Having two healthy feet is something most runners take for granted.  Until one gets injured.  Foot care is often overlooked by runners who stretch hamstrings, quads and calves but miss their most important part.  Feet take the first impact of every step.  They also help us stay upright, balance and learn about our environments.  Here are some of Team ECRP‘s favorite ways to keep them healthy and happy.

Find the right shoes.  If your shoes are too loose they can rub and causing blisters.  Too narrow and you’re susceptible to callouses, too.  If they’re too small, add in the risk of black or foot carefalling off toenails.  When you buy running shoes, do so from a reputable running store and make sure the fit is correct.  And, once you have the correct shoes, know when it’s time for new ones.

Socks.  There are tons of socks out there, and you want to be sure you’re running in the right ones.  Cotton socks can lead to blisters while other materials, such as acrylic, can help protect your feet from rubbing by pulling sweat and moisture away.  You might need to vary your sock choice based on the weather, a light sock won’t be equally fit for a speed workout and racing a marathon.  Although there are lots of choices, socks are fairly inexpensive, so try different brands, fabrics and cuts until you find what works best.

Keep your feet dry.  This can be hard if you’re running in the rain, on the trails, in snow or on the beach.  Waterproof trail shoes are a great choice for those who brave nature, but for those who run mostly on pavement or a treadmill, the answer is usually to wear moisture wicking fabrics.  Never start with damp or wet socks and shoes and keep an extra pair nearby for when you’re finished.

Massage your feet by rolling them on golf or lacrosse balls, a rolling pin or foot roller.  Not only will a foot massage relax those hard working muscles, it’ll give you a few minutes to chill out foot careand take a break.  Be careful, though.  Rolling or massaging your feet too hard can cause damage to tender fascia and harm, rather than help, this important body part.

Make them strong.  Do foot and ankle strengthening exercises.  Weak feet mean you lose out on power and speed while increasing your risk of injury.  Try being barefoot as much as you can.  Shoes support muscles so they don’t have to work.  Taking off your shoes will strengthen the arch of your foot while aiding in your body’s ability to sense what’s happening around it.

Use these tips to keep your feet in good working condition and they’ll help you hit a new PR.

Coach Meredith

5 Yoga Poses for Runners

Yoga is an excellent tool for runners to have in their fitness toolbox.  While they don’t need tons of static flexibility, which can actually take power away from you, it is important to have strength through a full range of motion at all joints, especially the hips.  Spending a few minutes each day going through some or all five of these yoga poses will also help relieve muscle soreness and provide relaxation.

Downward Facing Dogyoga poses
An easy pose to do just about anywhere, down dog is an excellent way to wrap up a workout.  It stretches your arms, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, calves and feet.  Hang out like your pup for up to three minutes taking deep breaths to build arm and leg strength while reaping the pose’s calming effects.

yoga posesWarrior 2
This standing pose will help you open those post run hips.  With feet 3.5-4 feet apart and your back foot turned out, reach from your shoulders with arms parallel to the ground.  Sink down until your front thigh is also parallel to the ground while your torso stays tall over your hips.  Perform on both sides to get all of the leg, hip, groin and ankle stretching and strengthening benefits.

Plankyoga poses
Of all the yoga poses, this one is one of the most simple.  Great for stabilizing your core, make sure you’re hips stay high and your shoulders are directly over your wrists or elbow when performing it.  Use this simplest plank to improve your running posture while strengthening your shoulders, arms and wrists.

Low Lunge
yoga posesThis hip opener is perfect for both before and after your run.  After stepping back with one leg be sure to keep your front shin vertical as you reach both hands to the ground on the inside of the front knee.  You’ll feel it stretch your hips, thighs and chest as you repeat it on both side.

yoga posesLegs on the Wall
You get a little help on this one.  Raising your legs vertically above your head while keeping your sit bones in contact with the ground might be the perfect pose.  It has health benefits as well as stretching ones.  It doesn’t matter how close you are to the wall in the beginning.  Tighter runners will need to be further away to keep their lower back supported.  You’ll move closer and your flexibility increases.

Add these yoga poses to your pre- and post-run routines to prevent soreness, relax and improve mobility.

Coach Meredith

4 Ways to Decide You Need New Running Shoes

Lots of runners find a pair of shoes they end up falling in love with.  Unfortunately just because you love them doesn’t mean they’ll last forever.  Everything wears out and eventually we all need new running shoes.  Here are four of Team ECRP‘s tried and true methods for determining when it’s time to pick up a new pair.

Worn out treads.  If your shoes look like the pair on the right in this photo, it’s time for them to new running shoesgo.  When you’ve run enough to wear down the rubber on the bottom of your shoe, they’re not much help.  Your traction on slippery roads or trails is gone.  If your treads lack definition, it’s time to upgrade.

Pain train.  Do you feet hurt after a workout?  They shouldn’t.  What about a sudden onset of shin splints?  Both can indicate it’s time for new running shoes.  As running shoes age, they start to break down.  That breakdown means your cushion isn’t quite so fluffy, your arch isn’t getting the help it needs and your feet aren’t as well protected from the road.  Old, broken down shoes can increase your risk for injury.  No runner wants that.

Newer is better.  You love the model you’re in.  To avoid the changes that are made each year you stocked up with multiple pairs.  If you slide on a new pair that feels cushier, more comfortable, supportive and softer, it’s time to can the old ones.  If they’re pretty close, you’re probably in the clear to keep both pairs in your rotation.

Lots of miles.  Lots of runners track their mileage and lots of them don’t.  Whether you’re an avid Strava user or not, it’s pretty easy to guess how many miles are on your shoes.  Shoes vary widely in how long they’ll last.  If you’re running on hard surfaces they won’t last as long as they would if you tackled the trails every day.  Heavier runners are tougher on shoes than lighter ones.  A good baseline is 300-400 miles per pair but take into account the kind of running you do before tossing anything based purely on mileage. 

The good news is there are always new models, technologies and colors out there so when one pair wears out you might just find something you like even more!  Take these tips with you on your next outing to decide if it’s time for you to pick up a shiny new pair of running shoes.

Coach Meredith