How to Keep on Running
At the risk of tempting fate writing this, it has been my best running year in over 10 years. Having done a fair bit of running in my life, I’ve struggled to run consistently recently due to many years with calf and hip injuries.
In January this year, I set myself the target of running 100 times during the calendar year. By the time you read this, I’ll have 20 or so runs to go.
So, what has helped me make this change?
4 key factors have re-shaped my running:
- The right diagnosis
Two of our Habit Rehabilitation team, Davide and Sarah, both recommended establishing a good base in calf and core strength. I had previously had an ultrasound scan that showed that there was no specific damage to the calf muscles but years of over-use and poor recovery had led to some injured muscles. Their recommendation was to get the muscles as strong as possible. I now do calf raises the day before I run and then calf raises and single leg squats at the end of every run.
- Setting a specific goal
Setting my goal of100 runs in the year has been crucial to achieving a mental focus. It’s all about regularity and consistency. In previous years, I had just tried to do some running. But this year I knew that I had to average 2 runs per week so scheduling the days for running and balancing out other training around those has been vital. I strongly believe in the power of setting a challenging but achievable goal. It’s amazing what our bodies can do when we have mind and body moving in the same direction. (1)
- Building things up gradually
Other than running 100 times, I didn’t really set any other goals. I started off with walk/run intervals and gradually built things up each week. I have recently been increasing the distance by 1km per week. I have included periods of hill training to add more strength. I’ve then added some speed work to develop my running technique and efficiency. I’ve run on road and off road, with running on the trails being my favourite. I scheduled recovery weeks to allow the body to rest and receive the gains from the training that I had done. I will keep on rotating through these different phases to add variation, keeping things interesting and to hopefully maintain progressions
- Running at the ideal cadence
This has probably been the most fun thing to experience with my running. I had known for a long time that most professional runners strike each foot on the ground at least 90 times per minute. This is a fast cadence but it just means reducing your stride length and shuffling along a bit quicker. I downloaded music that had a beat of 180bpm and started running in time with the music. It’s amazing how many suitable playlists are already available. If I go up hill I shorten my stride but still stay in time with the music and if I am doing my speed sessions, I just lengthen my stride and stick to the beat.
This is the optimal demand on my body between strength and cardiovascular capacity. The faster cadence reduces the chances of over-striding. I really feel like I am gliding along, rather than fighting the ground and shocking my body by hitting the ground too hard. And…I get to listen to some really motivating tunes. (2)
I am excited to reach my 100 run goal. I aim to get my strength exercises done, be consistent, gradually increase the distances, allow for recovery periods and I will be listening to great music along way.
If you have had troubles with your running, some of my experiences could help you. If you have recurring injuries than seeing a Habit physio would be a sensible starting place and seeking some training guidance with one of our Habit Personal Trainers is a good idea too.
Most importantly, set inspiring goals and take consistent, small steps towards them…. whilst listening to great music!