The days are getting shorter and cooler, leaves are beginning to change – all of these thing signaling the start of fall. More importantly, fall means the start of another season of races. Whether you are just getting started with endurance events like 5k’s or have worked your way up to marathons or even beyond, an injury now can be incredibly trying emotionally if it means you have to skip out on your goals. So, how can you avoid injuries during your preparation for your events.
1 – Balance Your Training
One of the most common fitness mistakes, made by many beginners regardless of their chosen activity, is following an unbalanced workout routine. According to the International Association of Athletics Federation, a proper conditioning program must include strength, flexibility and balance in addition to your endurance training. Many endurance athletes will focus their attention zealously on cardio and neglect these other aspects, sometimes based on gym myths. For instance, it’s been passed around gyms for years that strength training and endurance training counteract each other but modern science has largely disproved this.
Think about it this way: The quadriceps and hamstrings wrap around the knee to enable movement and stability. The stronger these muscles are, the more efficient and safe movement in the knee will be. Balance and endurance training can benefit these joints in the same way.
Since many injuries suffered by endurance athletes affect the muscles themselves, rather than the joints, flexibility is an important step toward preventing this type of injury. Also key is appropriate rest.
2- Know When and How to Rest and Recover
Rest is a surprisingly important aspect of a fitness routine. With endurance training, and other exercise modes, many people feel as though if some running is good for you more running is better but this just isn’t the case.
The most basic form of rest is, of course, sleep. Make sure you get enough sleep, at least 8 hours a night for active adults, because it’s during sleep that your body adapts to the stresses you put on it during the day. Adaptation includes building and repairing muscles, strengthening the heart and lungs and shoring up nerves associated with muscle contraction. The affect that proper sleep has on your mental awareness and energy as shouldn’t be ignored. When you feel good, physically and mentally, you’re going to be more willing to exercise.
Recovery can be a more complex idea that can take many forms. One of the most useful methods is active recovery, which involves a much easier workout for that you’re taking it easy without being totally sedentary. Active recovery can take the form of course training, using a different exercise mode, or just working out at a lower intensity. These training days should follow a high-intensity day, and active recovery weeks should be included about every third or fourth week.
3- Warm Up and Cool Down
The warm up and cool down are often overlooked aspects of a workout. They might get skipped to save time, because the exerciser doesn’t see the necessity or simply because they’ve forgotten. A warm up last about 5 to 15 minutes will help to gradually increase your heart rate and blood flow to the target muscles. This increased blood flow with not only make sure that the muscles have the nutrients they need but it will raise the temperature and therefore the flexibility of the connective tissue.
A cool down should last about the same time and can be just a lower intensity cardio activity. This will help the body to slowly return to normal function and clear away lactic acid to lower muscle soreness.
Both the warm up and the cool down can be just easier versions of the training method. For example, if you’ll be running your warm up and cool down can be a brisk walk or jog.
These are just a few of the adjustments you can make to your training to make sure that you don’t suffer an injury that could slow you down and take you out of the race.