More Physio Tips to Optimise Running Performance and Reduce Running-Related Injury

Following on from our March 2024 blog ‘Three Tips for an Injury-Free Marathon Running Season’, here are a few more key concepts to consider to in boosting your running performance and reducing running-related injury:

1: Be consistent but flexible

As discussed in our last blog, following a clear and well programmed running plan is key.

However, sometimes life can get in the way and things don’t go exactly to plan. Try not to stress and don’t be tempted to squeeze in extra training sessions to make up for lost time.

This is especially important during the taper period close to the race. It is always better to race 10% ‘undercooked’ than 1% ‘overcooked’ when it comes to balancing performance and injury. Aim to be consistent but be willing to adapt. Hitting 80% of the programming will suffice for most people to reach their goals!

2: Recover like a pro

Hard work and consistency are important, but adequate recovery is equally important!

Get the basics right: nutrition, sleep, hydration, and adequate recovery time between sessions. Well-structured training programs should also have de-load weeks built into them where you reduce running volume to help to manage overload. You can add in any other recovery tools you may find helpful (such as foam rolling, taping, cold plunges, massage, mobility etc.), but without nailing the basics these other methods are futile.

It’s also important to consider other factors that might influence recovery, such as stress and fatigue. Depending on what’s going on in your life, you might need to adjust your training volume and increase your rest periods to give your body time to adapt and recover fully.

3: You can’t go wrong getting strong!

In my opinion strength and plyometric training are important for all runners, as research has shown this can improve running economy and may also help to reduce the risk of injury. Often a simple home exercise program is all you need!

However, if you are a few weeks out from your race now is not the time to start. It takes several weeks to build significant strength, so the risk of irritating unaccustomed tissues and over fatiguing muscles (especially without adjusting running volume) this close to a race will outweigh any marginal gains made. You need to build this into your program slowly and control running volume while doing so to give the body time to adapt.

And remember, it’s always good idea to have a team supporting you. Our therapists at Alaia are here to help if you have questions about implementing any of the above. Book an assessment with one of us here.

Sam Bellhouse, Registered Physiotherapist.

References:

  1. Blagrove R, Howatson G, Hayes P. (2018) Effects of strength training on the physiological determinants of middle- and long- distance running performance: A systematic review. Sports Med 48:1117-1149.
  2. Lauersen J, et al. (2014). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med; 48:871–877.
  3. Li F, Newton RU, Shi Y, Sutton D, Ding H. Correlation of eccentric strength, reactive strength, and leg stiffness with running economy in well-trained distance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2021;35(6):1491–9. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000 003446.
  4. Malisoux L, Gette P, Delattre N, Urhausen A, Theisen D (2022). Spatiotemporal and ground-reaction force characteristics as risk factors for running-related injury: A secondary analysis of a randomized trial including 800+ recreational runners. Am J Sports Med. 50(2):537-544.
  5. Van Hooren, B., Jukic, I., Cox, M., Frenken, K.g., Bautista, I., Moore., (2024). The Relationship Between Biomechanics and Running Economy: A systematic Review and EMta-Analsyis of Observational Studies.Sports Medicine Mar 6. doi: 10.1007/s40279-024-01997-3.