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Why Do So Many Runners Get Injured?

This question has plagued athletes for years. We have changed training techniques, running styles, and shoe structures, but still 30-75% of runners are hurt on a yearly basis as stated in an article by Alvin Powell, staff writer for the Harvard Gazette. In Powell’s article, he cites the new study done by Harvard Medical School which has found that the more softly you land with each step the better to avoid injury.  http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/02/where-runners-go-wrong/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=02.24.2016%20%281%29%20B

I am still amazed at the amount of heel-strikers in the sport of long distance running. In my coaching, the heel-striker will sooner or later come down with a repetitive injury. When a heel-striker makes impact with the ground, their leg is straight which can lead to pain all way up to the lower back. Not only do forefoot-strikers have a natural pad to land on when striking the ground, but the ankle and knee joints allow proper shock absorption to avoid a repetitive injury. At the same time, I have many people who want to run on the forefoot, but are unwilling to spend the time to protect their bodies with the workouts to build up their lower extremities i.e. gastrocnemius, Achilles tendon, feet, etc. The photo of my leg below walking over a hurdle took a lot of work to build up to avoid a repetitive injury.

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I have clients that range from milers to marathoners, but everyone who comes to see me wants to run faster, without injury, and for a long time.  This high aspiration takes awareness of their running technique, strength program, flexibility program, training/running program, recovery, nutrition, mental state, and race strategies. I wish I could say that you can just lace up your shoes and run five times a week for 5 years and not have an injury. People think running is such a “natural” movement, but the more I see people run, the more I think people need help.

 

 

Performance Driven Athletic Socks

I am one of the first athletes, starting back in 2008, to begin wearing, testing, and promoting the value of graduated compression socks for any athletic activity. Increased blood flow and injury prevention are very important for me as an older athlete. Increased blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients and less lactic acid build up. Injury prevention means greater protection to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons by reducing the vibration with increased support. My sock of choice is the Sigvaris Performance socks (www.sigvaris.com) that are real graduated compression (many companies claim their socks are but fail in our testing) and go from the tip of your toes to above the calf.

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This above photo is from the store Sanbeck AG, Winterthur, Switzerland (http://www.sanbeck.ch/) is part of Sigvaris’ European promotions displaying their Performance line of socks. Sigvaris takes their extensive medical background and brings it to the athletic arena. I believe that Sigvaris is the best Performance sock on the worldwide market. I am wearing them in every one of my athletic events from running to tennis. Sometimes I forget how the graduated compression socks help my legs feel so good. All I need to do is to wear an ordinary polyester sock on a run and I really feel the difference in performance and recovery.

I used Sigvaris Performance socks in every race this summer in Greece. I am not a big advocate of the sport sleeves that are seen at many sporting events. The sleeves might be practical and easy as you can still wear your ankle height socks and wear the sleeve above them, but the science to me does not make sense. If you can imagine the graduated compression sock like a tube of toothpaste pushing the paste upwards. Even though the compression is greater at the ankle and decreases as you go up the calf, why would you not want to include the foot? I want the blood in the foot to be part of the process. I feel the difference in the effectiveness between the sock and the sleeve. I wear the performance graduated compression sock before my event for blood flow on the way to the competition, at every event for performance, post event for recovery, and in my travels as my lower extremities can swell especially on flights.

Give the Sigvaris Performance Socks a try to see if they make a difference in your next race.

3 Steps To Run A Faster Mile In Your 50s

Many people have been inquiring since I completed my 2015 www.OneMileRunner.com event, The Greek Islands Adventure, on how I was able to break 5 minutes, in 5 one-mile races, over 12 days. I promised that I would share what changes I made to my training in the months preceding the event and what changes I made during my race schedule.

So here are the 3 steps to a run a faster mile in your 50s…

  1. I still did three speed workouts a week in the months leading up to my event, but the arrangement was different. I knew for my event I had to be able to run fast on very little rest. In the past for example, I would run 8 repetitions of a 1/4 mile at race pace in one workout and I would sometimes leave beat up and in need of a greater rest period. This year I cut the repetitions in half. I did speed repeats at race pace every Tuesday and Thursday, but only 4 repetitions. I left each workout still feeling fresh. I found my speed, established it in the workout, and then left. All my speed workouts were on the road, never on the track. One thing my chiropractor and I discovered a few years ago is that my hips stay in better alignment running in a straight line. No longer do I run fast while cornering – what a difference! Pounding the corners creates an  imbalance with one side of my body contracting while the other side lengthening. After years of running my intervals on the oval track, I now only do my speed on a measured straight line 100s, 200s, 400s, and 800s. NASCAR automobiles are made for their left turns, our bodies our not especially as we get older.
  2. All my long distance base training was done on a soft surface. I took advantage of our Florida beaches, dirt trails, and a the new crushed shell trail loop at Benderson Park. I never ran slowly on the road (as I have done in the past). This really helped in not beating up my legs. As we age, our joints can no longer take the pounding of a hard surface. When I see people running slowly on the sidewalk, I know it will not be for long as it is about 10 times harder than the roads. Injuries will soon be a result of those repetitive workouts.
  3. Back in 2008 when I had to break 5 minutes in 20 different road mile races in 20 weeks, I still did a hard track workout every Wednesday afternoon in whatever city I was in for the race. I look back and remember my mind set that unless I raced every Saturday and did another speed workout on Wednesday that I was not race ready. This year at 52 years of age, it was different. I went into the races having done all my work. During the weeks of my races, all I did was travel, warm-up, run easy, and then race as hard as I could. Rinse and repeat – one after the other. No extra speed workouts were done during my race period. Focus was only on my recovery. I felt as good racing this year as I did back in 2012. It is nice to do repetitive races with bouncy legs.

Hope these steps help you wisely prepare for your races and enjoy running as fast as you can even as you age.

 

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