The last month has been a strange one for most of us. Unprecedented lockdown scenarios all around the world have left more than three billion people in isolation or socially distanced. And there is a great deal of uncertainty about how we will return to ‘normal’.
However, one of the positives to come out of this horrible situation is that people are being far more active. With the 5k challenge to raise money for the NHS, more and more people are lacing up their runners and getting after it.
It’s amazing to see so many people – many of whom would not normally run – out training, updating their Strava, and setting goals. But it’s easy to get overconfident and injure yourself without the correct recovery. I’m actually guilty of this and I’m currently suffering from a niggle in the outside of my right knee. I think four months off running, over 100 days skiing over the winter, and then trying to run 100km in 2 weeks did it.
So, how do you stay fighting fit?
Too much, too soon, too fast
The biggest factor to keep in mind is avoiding overtraining too quickly. Sure, you felt great during that first 5k run so now you want to run 10k the next day, why not try a half marathon next week? This is the number one reason for injury as your body hasn’t had time to adapt to the extra load. Your muscles and joints need time to recover and repair in between workouts so it’s important to listen to your body and take it easy.
Try not to increase your mileage too quickly either. The idea is to increase your weekly distance by 10% each week to let your body become accustomed.
Rest and recover
Rest periods between training are as important as the time you spend training. Try to include a stretching and foam rolling routine into your exercise and your future self will be grateful. You should look to spend at least twenty minutes cooling down and stretching after each run to allow your body to get rid of lactic acid and return to a resting state.
One thing I’ve recently added into my recovery routine is lying on my back with my legs up a wall (Viparita Karani) for five minutes after I’ve stretched. The theory is that elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build-up. In addition, gravity assists circulation by facilitating the return of blood back to the heart. It’s also a really good final hamstring stretch and a time to relax and meditate.
If you’ve not added foam rolling into your routine yet, it’s something I’d highly recommend. You can pick up a foam roller for less than £10 here and follow along with this 20 minute foam rolling tutorial which goes through some basic moves to help your legs recover.
Invest in the right shoes
Having the right running shoes for your feet is so important. The amount of choice can be a little overwhelming, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to finding the right running shoe. It’s all about your foot shape and your gait. Runners World have published a comprehensive guide to choosing the right shoe which is well worth checking out.
It’s also worth noting that, in general, you get what you pay for with running shoes. If you can afford to pay a little extra, I think it’s worthwhile investing in a solid shoe.
Special thanks to Picture Organic for sending their new range of recycled activewear for me to try out during lockdown. The shorts are absolutely perfect for stretching and yoga routines thanks to the elasticity and the vents in the side panels. You can find out more about the new SS2o range from Picture here.
And if you’re still looking for a warm mid-layer for the summer, check out our feature on the Picture Organic Takashima Jacket.