Category Archives: Injury

Cross-Training to Run Faster

With the summer training season in full swing and dreams of fall PRs all around, there’s no better time to add cross-training to your plan.  With an option out there for everyone, it’s easy to find something you enjoy doing while giving your body a break from the pavement and the heat.

It’s true.  No matter what you enjoy doing outside of going for a run there’s something for you.  Yoga, swimming, cycling and Crossfit all get the job done while making you a stronger athlete.  Here are some of the big benefits you’ll get from adding two or three non-running sessions to your weekly plan.

Lift weights.  Strength training is a great way to resolve the muscle imbalances many runners experience.  We’re all naturally stronger on one side than the other and running just makes that more pronounced.  By training unilaterally, one side at a time, with exercises like walking lunges, pistols and side planks, you’ll be a more balanced and less injury prone athlete.  Strength training also increases running economy which can help you hit that new PR even sooner.

Move your legs.deadlift  Spinning or cycling is a fun alternative to hitting the track and it’s also a great way to work on increasing your cadence.  A higher cadence means more efficient running and the bike is a perfect place to get your legs used to moving faster.  Cycling with tension uses leg muscles similarly to running uphill without the impact, reducing risk of an injury while building strength.  Hit the trails on a mountain bike or join a spin class to reap the benefits.

Less stress.  Swimming, cycling and rowing are low impact activities that increase fitness without additional stress on bones.  They can lower your risk of overuse injuries and stress fractures while improving overall cardiovascular capacity.  Even strength training can be considered low impact and is hugely beneficial to runners.

Mix it up.  Try different types of cross-training.  There’s no reason your non-running workouts always have to be the same.  Changing the stimulus your body experiences will make you stronger, fitter and faster.  Mountain bike on Monday, take a yoga class on Thursday and a recovery swim on Sunday to keep muscles fresh without overuse.

Find something you love.  The key with cross-training is to find something you enjoy doing.  You might even find more than one thing you love.  You’ll have the opportunity to meet new people, push yourself in new ways and have fun.  No matter what that activity is, you should look forward to your non-running workouts.

The most important thing about cross-training?  Be sure your alternative workout isn’t so hard it takes away from the quality of your target training runs.

Coach Meredith

Are Racing Flats Right for You?

It’s race season!  That brings up the question of needing a pair of racing flats.  With so many fancy shoes out there, do you need a special one for race day?

The answer is maybe.  The contrasts between training shoes and race flats isn’t as dramatic as the differences between basketball and trail shoes but they are there.  More than looks or drop, the type of shoes you want for race day depend on what kind of runner you are.  Here are 5 ways to tell if you’ll want to stay clear of racing flats.racing flats

You’re a new runner.  Throwing on a lighter shoe won’t actually make you that much faster.  Hours of training and hard work do that.  A less cushioned, less supportive pair of racing flats is more likely to lead to an injury than a new PR.

Marathoners.  The marathon is a long race and you’ll be taking lots of steps while beating your body up.  Don’t make it worse by stripping away the layer of protection between your foot and the road.  Happy feet are fast feet so give them a little love on race day with nice comfy shoes.  The longer the race, the more shoe you’ll need.

Heavier runners.  You’ll need that extra cushioning for support over the length of the race and the barefoot movement hasn’t been all its cracked up to be.  Typically, less protection means more injuries.  No matter what the scale says, your gait can have a big impact on how much pounding your bones take with each step and swapping into a lightweight shoe on race day can change the way you move and lead to injury.

You’re injured.  If you have any hint of soreness, fatigue or muscle strain, stick with your trainers since you probably won’t be pushing yourself for the race’s entire duration anyway.  It always better play things safe than toy with making a minor injury more serious.

You didn’t train in them.  Nothing new on race day, right?  That especially goes for shoes.  Whether you’re tackling the course in brand new trainers or fancy racing flats, definitely spend time training in them.  Take them out for easy runs, a track session or two and maybe even a long run.  You have to prepare your body for the demands of a lightweight shoe.

Coach Meredith

Running 101: IT Band Syndrome

Dreaded IT Band pain!

Runners stretch it, roll it and ice gun it but sometimes those muscle fibers just get grumpy.  While it might be a bother, it is also preventable and treatable.  A frequently experienced injury, many runners don’t know what the IT Band does or how to deal with it.  Here’s a little bit more to help you understand what you’re facing with IT Band pain.

The illiotibial band (ITB) is a large fibrous group of fascia that runs longitudinally down the outside of the upper leg.  Anchoring at the iliac crest and tibia, it’s a bunch of passive rubber bands that extend, abduct and rotate the hip laterally.  It also helps stabilize the knee while storing energy to support running and walking.IT band

IT Band syndrome (ITBS) is an inflammation of these tissues and typically presents with outer knee pain.  That is the area where the ITB should slide over bone and muscle easily. If it’s not sliding due to inflammation or tightness, pain will result.  Sometimes the pain can be felt along the entire length of the outer thigh and it’s often a result of overuse.  Two examples of exercise patterns that can lead to overuse are increasing mileage too quickly or running on hard surfaces.

There is good news, however.  There are several ways to treat and prevent ITBS.  The first step in treatment is to rest long enough for the inflammation to subside.  Second is to work on improving mobility of the hip and knee.  Limited range of motion in either joint can cause extra stress to the ITB and lead to inflammation.  Foam rolling and proper warm up to increase circulation to these fibers before a workout will help it slide painlessly.

Strength training with a qualified coach is one of the best solutions to ITBS.  Having muscles strong enough the support your increase in mileage or the strain of a downhill marathon will help prevent ITB irritation.  Hip, glute and abdonimal core strength are paramount to any solid strength training plan for runners who want to stay healthy.  These muscles also ensure your IT band gets the support it needs.

A final possibility is that it might not be it your IT Band at all.  The ITB is so passive it’s hard to know how it might get injured.  Since that research isn’t ready yet take a look at the muscles around it: your hamstrings and quads.  When these muscles get tight or damaged they can put stress on the IT band.  Relaxing the tight muscles through improved mobility or foam rolling can release stress on the ITB to reduce or eliminate pain.

Want to stay ITBS free?  Take good care of all the muscles it works with.  Be sure to strengthen, stretch and warm up properly.

Coach Meredith