11 Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

Running injury prevention is one of the most important things that I like to cover early on whenever I coach running clinics or take on new clients. Chances are, if you run, you have been injured before. If you have been injured before, you know injuries are not fun.

Injuries take all the joy out of running. So what are some things you can do to prevent them?

1.Understand your injury threshold, which is different for everyone.

You have to avoid the “terrible toos”, which are: too much, too soon, too fast. Some people can get hurt running 15 miles per week, while others can run 150 miles a week before they experience any issues.

I have worked with people of all levels of injury threshold and have successfully helped them reach their goals through progressive approach to increasing their weekly mileage.

If you’re in doubt, then I recommend doing less because sometimes “less is more”. The safest way to build up your training volume is to not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% per week.

2. Build your base first.

There is a reason why I don’t shove hills and intervals down people’s throats when they first start training with me. Your body needs some time to adjust to your new training schedule and that’s why I tell people to spend the first 4-8 weeks (depending on the total length of your training plan) to do easy runs.

Building your base will prepare your muscles and joints for the hills, drills and speedwork thrills in your future. Think of your training plan like a pyramid. With a strong and wide base, it’s less likely to fall apart.

3. Don’t do two hard workouts in a row.

Your body needs about 48 hours to recover after a hard interval or hill workout. If you do a hard workout, then you should do an easy workout for the next two days (or even take a rest day if it was very hard).

If you do too many hard workouts in a row, you will not recover as fast and are more likely to get injured. The body needs time to adapt to the stresses of a hard workout and to recover.

4. Avoid Over-striding.

Over-striding can increase your chances of injury because it often causes you to land heavily on your heel and puts a lot of pressure on your joints. If you are over-striding and landing on your forefoot, that causes a lot of pressure on your calves and Achilles tendon. Therefore, regardless of which part of the foot you are landing on, over-striding is not good for you.

In addition to putting pressure on your joints, it also reduces your running efficiency by causing a breaking action with every step. This prevents you from smoothly moving forward.

With that in mind, work on shortening your stride and increasing your cadence. Aim for a cadence of about 160-180 strides per minute. Land with your foot directly underneath or slightly behind your hips, rather than in front of you. This will help you run with less effort and less impact on your joints because you will be able to land softer.

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Above: Running Cobble Hill 10k 2016 and I’m noticing that my foot is touching right under my hip (possibly even slightly behind it). I’m also leaning slightly forward. When I looked at the cadence I also noticed that my average cadence was 176 strides per minute. I was happy with that.

5. Strength train to balance your body.

Runners who just run all the time end up getting injured because of the repetitive nature of running. It’s important to keep your core, glutes and back strong if you want to continue improving as a runner and avoid potential setbacks. It’s also important to balance out your quads and hamstrings.

You are far less likely to get injured when you have balance around your hip, knee and ankle joints. In running, some muscles are overused and some are not used enough, which is why strength training is an important part of every running program. By “strength training” I don’t mean that you need to lift as heavy as you can or do curls for the girls all the time. What I mean is functional movement that increases core stability, glute strength, back strength, and balance.

Contrary to popular belief, strength training will not make you too bulky to run fast. In fact, it will make you lean, toned and serve as a defence against injuries. In order to get “bulky” from strength training, you’d have to do something completely different from what I have the runners doing. As far as I know, no one accidentally developed a body-building physique.

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Above: Core exercise using the bosu ball.

6. Listen to your body.

If something hurts in a bad way, take 3 days off. Then, try an easy jog to see if you still feel the bad pain. If you don’t feel any bad pain, then you may resume your training program. If the pain is still there, take another 3 days off. If you don’t feel it after that, you may continue training. If it still hurts after 6 days off, then you should see a physiotherapist.

7. Run on an even surface.

If you are consistently running on a slanted road or sidewalk the same way, then you will develop leg length discrepancy because one foot will hit lower on the slope than the other. This can cause hip and knee injuries because your pelvis is no longer stable combined with the impact of running. If one hip is higher than the other, your likelihood of injury increases.

You should also avoid constantly going the same way on the track when doing intervals. Continuously going around the curve of the track causes a similar effect.

8. Don’t forget to stretch.

There is a correlation between tight calves and Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis. Additionally, there is a link between hamstring and hip flexor tightness and hip and knee injuries.

If you sit at a desk all day, it’s very important that you pay attention to hip flexor tightness. Because of where the hip flexors attach (the vertebrae of the lower back), tight hip flexors can correlate with lower back pain.

Also, you should take care of your IT band to make sure it’s not too tight, or else you will experience pain on the outer side of the knee.

9. Cross train.

There are several ways to cross train to maintain your fitness, including: swimming, stationary bike, outdoor cycling, Nordic Track, elliptical trainer, and the rowing machine.

10. Get proper shoes.

If there is one thing I know, it’s the importance of proper running shoes. Although shoes can’t cure injuries, proper shoes can help prevent them. Every foot is different so it’s very important to get fitted for shoes by an expert. If a shoe salesperson tells you that “Shoe X” is perfect for you, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. They have to be able to tell you why they believe that it’s the best shoe for you.

If you’re a pronator that wears shoes designed for someone who is a supinator, can you see where the problem is? It’s amplifying the problem you already have making you even more susceptible to injuries.

11. Foam rolling and massages.

They both help decrease muscle tightness. When muscles have their full range of motion, they are much happier and healthier. Don’t forget to foam roll your IT band (it really hurts the first time you try it).

I hope that you found this information helpful. Please share with all your running friends so we can help each other prevent running injuries.

 

Fight 4 The Cause 2015: A Ringside Recap

Fight 4 The Cause 2015 took place on November 21. It’s a charity social boxing event that benefits the community. Over 1000 people dress up to look their best and come out to watch it every year for the past few years. It’s always a sold out event and for a good reason. 🙂

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Above: Team Ring girls and Ring Boy. Photo by Driven Portfolios.

Every year, 24 people who have never boxed before find their way into the ring. In doing so, they are definitely going outside of their comfort zone. What’s even more impressive is that they are ok with being watched by hundreds of people!

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Above: Dressed up and feeling great. End of night shot. Photo by Driven Portfolios.

Prior to stepping into the ring, participants are properly trained for several weeks. In addition, the match ups are fair based on competitor’s size and weight. This ensures that everyone has a lot of fun and gets a lot of value out of the experience.

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Above: Photo by Driven Portfolios.

I watched the boxers during their training and I have to say that they are a super inspiring group of people. I’m very impressed by the quality of the coaching that they receive and by the levels of effort that they put into their training.

Many people who participated in Fight 4 The Cause said that the event has had a hugely positive impact on their life. They felt very inspired to continue their fitness journey long after the event is over. Not only that, but they served as role models to their colleagues, friends, family and other members of their community.

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Above: Just a few of us Ring Girls. I’m in the middle (cell phone photo). Thanks to Jodi Bryans at LE CHÂTEAU, Monica at Brun Body Bar for the tan and the folks at GOLD HAIR Lounge and Deco De Mode Nail Spa for the hair and make-up. Of course, Kande Whitehouse for the hair colour and Darcy for letting me step into the ring again.

Since I’m a runner and that’s what I love, I have chosen to participate in Fight 4 The Cause in a different way (see above) than just stepping into the ring to fight.

I promote the event on my social media and I tell my clients to go buy tickets to watch it, in order to support the charities that benefit from it. There is also a silent and a live auction, as well as a 50/50 draw to raise even more money for the charity partners.

For the past 3 years, it was also super fun to be a ring girl. It’s the only day in the entire year where I’m wearing something other than running gear. HAHAHA. Most of the time, you will find me in the gym or on the roads with no make-up and my hair tied back.

I have sincere appreciation for all the challenges that the fighters have overcome before stepping into the ring. The challenges include anything from finding sponsors, to work schedules, to personal issues. I’ve talked to many of the contenders and I know that the road into the ring is not all roses. For that, I admire them for their strength.

Every single fighter has an inspiring story of hard work, dedication, discipline and resilience.

As I watch their fights, the only thing I can think of is how much work it takes to put on an event like this and how fortunate we are to have such a great, supportive community.

The total amount of money raised through the years for charity is approaching $100,000. This year, it was definitely the biggest and the best Fight 4 The Cause to date raising $35,000.

If you haven’t been to it yet, then I highly recommend you get your tickets next year. Buy your tickets early so you don’t miss out, as they sell fast.

SUCCESS STORY: Dominique Spragg WINS the Battle Against Plantar Fasciitis

My coaching client Dominique Spragg wins his long-term battle against Plantar Fasciitis (PF) and finishes his first ever half marathon completely pain-free.

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Above: Dominique, me and Jerry post race.

As someone who suffered from it for two years before I came back to being stronger and faster than before, I can tell you one thing: Plantar Fasciitis really sucks!

However, it was during those two years that I learned a lot about it (and myself…). This enabled me to transform a personal disadvantage into an opportunity to use what I learned in order to help people.

When we started training and Dominique told me about suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, I made it my mission to help him overcome it. I wanted to see him win the battle against this terrible injury that plagues many runners worldwide.

The heel and foot pain that PF sufferers experience is unbearable and super annoying. It removes all the joy from running. If not taken care of, it can potentially lead to other injuries.

What I love the most about working with Dominique is that he is always willing to try new stretches, exercises and training techniques.

Dominique is not afraid to ask questions and he always lets me know how the training is going. This not only makes my job enjoyable but also enables me to deliver exactly what the client is looking for.

When Dominique originally contacted me, he was looking for a “running coach”. He hired me so that he could improve his 10k time, do triathlons and complete longer races. However, the same way that a brick wall stands in the way of a race car, Plantar Fasciitis stood in his way.

I initially told him to stop running for a bit (roughly 6 weeks) so we can work on other things like strength, flexibility and core stability. In that time, he still did biking and swimming in addition to our sessions, which helped him keep up his cardio workouts but took the pressure off his foot while we figured it out.

I knew that running through it would have been a bad idea because instead of 6 weeks, it could have taken him years to get over it if we didn’t nip it in the bud. As with any injury, being told to “take time off” may sound like the worst thing ever. However, it had to be done.

Tight calves often contribute to Plantar Fasciitis, so we worked on stretching them. We also  stretched his hamstrings and hip flexors.

Then, we worked on his running form, glute strength, balance and core.

Designing core strengthening exercises is a lot of fun. We worked on everything from obliques, to abdominals to transverse abdominis.

When it comes to glute strength, we primarily worked on the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius prevents the knee from migrating inward. Having a strong gluteus medius helps stabilize the knee joint to prevent other potential running injuries.

We also worked on improving muscle balance around the hips and ankles through a combination of strengthening and balancing exercises.

When I gave Dominique permission to start running again, he had to keep it slow and short. I also instructed him to stop immediately if anything hurts, especially the foot.

As he was building up his running, he told me that there was no more foot pain, which made me extremely happy. Still, I kept holding him back from doing too much too soon, despite the excitement (he is a keener and a doer).

Dominique improved his range of motion and continued to build up mileage and strength. He was becoming more and more confident with every run for the next several months.

However, the most important thing was that Dominique was genuinely having fun and enjoying the process.

In the beginning, it may have been daunting, overwhelming and slightly discouraging (especially when you get a running coach and that coach tells you not to run). The one thing I knew for sure was that if he sticks with it (which he did), then he would do great (which he also did).

It wasn’t long before Dominique was doing 15k runs, then 16k and he continued to add 1 or 2km per week every week to his long run. His weekly mileage continued to progressively increase. Dominique continued his strength workouts with me, which were consistently becoming more and more challenging.

When the big day came, Dominique was happy, healthy and confident that he will conquer the distance. He completed his first half marathon (21.1km) on October 11,2015 in 2:01:13, which equates to a faster pace than his previous 10k.

Dominique never made excuses. Despite having a busy work and travel schedule, he never missed a workout.

This is what Dominique had to say about working with me so far:

“When I first met Yana, I had undertaken to explore triathlons and had spent a year teaching myself to swim.  In the process of re-establishing a running routine over 18 months, I had developed a solid case of Plantar Fasciitis which had become painfully debilitating. 

Rather that just saying,’ ‘tough it out’, Yana transformed the way I looked at running and for that matter all exercise.  Her consistent and progressive method of helping her clients build functional strength, flexibility and capability safely and in a thoughtful way, turned our sessions into the most enjoyable and challenging events of my week. 

Yana has the gift of gauging where you are at on any given day and taking you just beyond your expectations, “burning matches” as we started to say.  Over time that leads to some pretty impressive results.   

A short 6 months later, I ran a 1/2 Marathon, pain free at a pace faster than my previous 10 K pace and had completed 3 triathlons and several more competitive fun runs by the end of the year. 

Her encouragement and enthusiasm has taught me how to play again.  For this, I am eternally grateful.   I will always cherish what I have learned from her as it has spilled over into many other aspects of my life. 

Enter the Yana Zone, it lies just beyond your expectations.  You won’t regret it.

From the bottom of my heart,  THANK YOU YANA!!  I sincerely look forward to your continued inspiration to motivate my perspiration in 2016.”

I’m extremely proud of how far he has come (no pun intended). I want to take this opportunity to thank him for allowing me to be a part of his journey and I look forward to watching him achieve many other goals. I’m proud to not only call him my client, but also a great friend.

His amazing achievement and dedication also puts him in the semi-finals of my Get Fit & Win $1000 Challenge.

If you are serious about achieving your running goals, then contact me. I can help you too, just like Dominique and many people before him.

SUCCESS STORY: Kent Ainscough’s SECRET to Chopping Nearly Half Hour Off His Marathon Time

Without a doubt, my coaching client Kent Ainscough had a strong showing at the 2015 Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon.

In fact, if you compare his 2014 to his 2015 finish time on Raceday Timing, you will notice that in 2015, he was 28:09 min faster than last year. This equates to approximately a 40 sec per km faster pace in 2015 than he was in 2014.

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Above: Kent proudly displays his 2015 marathon finisher medal. Big thumbs up!!

So, what was his secret to chopping nearly a half hour off his marathon time? How was he able to finish strong and show a 40 sec improvement in pace on EVERY SINGLE kilometer over 42.2km?

The answer is simple: It’s what he did between October 12, 2014 and October 11, 2015.

Kent first ran the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Half marathon (21.1km) in 2013. Shortly thereafter, he started training with me (because his girlfriend recommended me) and worked himself up to doing the full marathon in 2014.

In 2014, 16 weeks before the race, I created a “first timer” marathon program for him where my only goal was to help him get across the finish line (and hopefully under 4 hours).

After he finished his first marathon in 3:59:xx, I recognized that he needed a more structured, progressive running program in order to get a faster time in 2015.

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Above: Kent’s Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon (42.2km) time in 2014, prior to starting my monthly online running program. He was 616th overall out of all the finishers (1570 finishers total). This put him in the top 39% of the entire field, which is still very good for his first attempt at the distance.

That was when he asked me about my monthly running programs. The advantage to my monthly running programs is that they have a very high degree of customization.

Kent doesn’t have all the weekends off work so the Sunday long run is not always possible for him.

In addition, his work schedule changes every month and I took that into account when designing his monthly running program. I also took his previous running experience into consideration.

As a coach, I believe it’s very important to be fully aware of every potential challenge that a client may face (scheduling, other workouts, vacations, etc.) as well as what their capabilities are. I never gave him more than he could handle and I always made sure to check in with him on how the program is going.

My programs are always adjustable and I believe that his good communication with me and diligence has been the key to his success. Not only that, but he followed my program closely and was always open and honest with me. Kent never complained and he never lost sight of his running goals.

Without a doubt, I knew that Kent was going to run a personal best in the marathon this year. I just could not predict how much faster he would be.

Therefore, I was extremely happy to see him cross the finish line in 3:31:22. Kent looked very strong at the finish and he also walked up and down the stairs as if he never ran a marathon at all (meaning he recovered very quickly). I was very impressed with his recovery time this year.

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Above: Kent looking strong in the big race!

His 28:09 min improvement over 42.2km means that he ran every single km on average 40 seconds faster than last year. That’s so amazing!

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Above: Kent’s time in the 2015 Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon after following my monthly online running program. As you can see, he was significantly faster. Kent finished 176th overall (out of 1200 finishers total), which put him in the top 15% of all the finishers. Without any doubt, that’s quite an amazing improvement.

Most importantly, Kent was able to run faster while continuing a normal life, including the occasional treat and a vacation. He worked hard and at the same time was able to enjoy his life.

This is what Kent had to say about his journey so far:

“I had procrastinated about entering the Goodlife Half Marathon for years. On a whim and with no running program or practice to speak of, I entered it on the Tuesday before the run. I got a 1:40 on my first half and I was sore and walked funny for about a week after that. My girlfriend had Yana for a training program and had nothing but great things to say about her. I really wanted someone to help me with my running goals and to generally kick my butt during workouts. That is exactly what I got: a running program to fit my schedule, never ending encouragement, new routines, and the stairs….oh God ,all the flights of stairs and the #abparties. I am now fitter, happier, and healthier (and close to qualifying for the Boston Marathon) thanks to Yana.”

Kent’s tremendous improvement also put him into the semi-finals for my Get Fit & Win $1000 challenge. 🙂 I can’t wait to see how he does at the next event!!!

If you also want to run a new personal best, you can find more information about my coaching programs HERE.

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Above: Glad to hear Kent had fun. It’s no small feat to accomplish a marathon.

Receive a FREE Copy of Strength Training for Runners when you join my email list. In less than 5 pages, you will learn 10 highly useful bodyweight exercises that you can do anytime anywhere.

 

Success Story: MEC Victoria Race 5 2015 Yields Great Results

The MEC Victoria Race 5 took place on November 1, 2015 on Hamsterly Beach, on the north-end of Elk Lake. I didn’t run the race but I was there.

At this point, you are probably wondering why am I writing a race report for a race that I didn’t run…

The truth is, it’s not all about me.

I owe my congratulations to my clients and MEC run clinic participants who did a fantastic job and had a strong showing at the race.

It was an honour, a privilege and a real pleasure to watch them come across the finish line in less than ideal weather conditions.

It may have been cold and wet, but that didn’t stop the run clinic participants from achieving personal bests.

A bit of background: In August 2015, my friend Andrew McCartney (who is a super fast runner and a fantastic triathlete) and I started coaching a new group of MEC half marathon clinic participants in preparation for MEC Race 5.

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Above: Andrew McCartney and I prior to the start of MEC race 5.

The first time that Andrew and I worked together on a run clinic was in the first half of 2015. He is a fantastic team player and we coached so well together that we were back to doing it again. 🙂

We were thrilled that some of the participants from our first clinic signed up again and brought recruits. 😀

Andrew and I coach through a combination of personal experience, education, and entertainment.

We strive to create a supportive, learning filled environment where fun is the key to success.

What’s exciting is that we have succeeded.

Many clinic participants became friends outside of the clinics and not only that, but they also achieved their goals. Above all else, they genuinely enjoyed the atmosphere.

It’s not about “he’s faster than her” and “she’s better than him”. It’s about doing it together with the success of the entire group in mind.

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Above: Race start. I can see how focused Peter and Jerry are right out front! And, of course, how can we miss Andrew!?

Here are some notable finishes from my clients and/or run clinic participants who Andrew and I coached:

*Jerry Hughes (individual coaching client, half marathon) 1:29:39-I told him to take it easy and he did. Now, he can easily break 1:30 in a half, just like that.

*Peter H. (MEC Run clinic participant, half marathon) 1:32:55-Personal Best

*Rafael M. (MEC Run clinic participant, half marathon) 1:43:52-Personal Best

*Alixe R. (MEC Run clinic participant, half marathon) 1:46:38-Personal Best Equivalent (PB was 1 sec faster on a road course in ideal conditions, this race was done on a trail course in rainy conditions)

*Patrick H. (MEC Run Clinic participant, half marathon) 1:48:48-Personal Best

*Ryan L. (MEC Run Clinic participant, half marathon) 1:51:28- Personal Best (approximately 3 weeks after running the Victoria Marathon…great recovery!)

*Carolynn C. (MEC Run Clinic Participant, Half marathon) 2:04:07-First half marathon successfully completed.

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Above: Carolynn was all smiles after her big accomplishment. So proud of her!

*Dominique S. (individual coaching client, 10k) 54:54-Personal Best in less than ideal weather conditions, previous PB was on the road at TC10k when the weather was great. I actually told him to take this one easy too, but he still ran a personal best and said he had fun and didn’t push it too hard.

By the way…my first half marathon ever was 2:12:xx, and ALL my run clinic participants beat that with time to spare. At the start of the clinic, I was 100% sure that they all would, even those who were running their first one. 🙂

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Above: Dominique and Jerry post-race. Clearly, they still had enough energy to show their sense of humour. 😉

Over 80% of the MEC clinic participants (coached by Andrew and I) who started the race, finished with a new personal best. Some MEC clinic participants did not start the race because they had conflicting work schedules that prevented them from making it to the start line.

I cannot attach a numerical value to the friendships that emerged as a result of the run clinics.

I truly love sharing the joy of running with everyone. MEC has given me the opportunity to do so through leading the run clinics and for that I’m grateful.

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Above: Party time never stops. 🙂

By the way, I’m coaching a new MEC Run clinic targeting the TC10k. Space is limited, so sign up early. You get a FREE MEC race entry with your clinic registration and now it’s your turn to get a PB.

 

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