Washington University Physical Therapy is the official medical partner of Big River’s START 5k program. The mission of the Washington University Physical Therapy Running Clinic is to utilize the expertise of physical therapists as movement system experts to evaluate recreational and competitive runners. They have some excellent thoughts that apply to both beginners and experienced runners that we thought would be helpful to share with all of Big River Nation:
It is estimated, depending on the source that you read, that up to 65% of runners in a given year will experience an injury. While the reasons that such injuries occur are varied, one factor that consistently contributes to pain and injury is change. In the context of running, a rapid or significant change in one or more factors of training (frequency, duration, intensity, surface, or shoes) can significantly impact the overall stress on the body and subsequently cause injury. Interestingly, the negative impact of change can affect both the novice runner and the experienced runners alike. We all know individuals that, after years of inactivity, wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon. First, let me state that I applaud the efforts of the individuals that do make the decision to be more active in any way. Unfortunately, many of those people that decide to drastically change their lifestyle in order to run do so without consideration of the physical impact that running has on the body. While the human body has a remarkable ability to adapt and improve, it must be allowed to do so safely and gradually. Many people start running without a plan or a direction with regards to achieving their goals. Often these individuals run too far, too fast, or too frequently. Then…they get injured. This can be very frustrating to the novice runner leading many to stop running altogether. Fortunately, there are multiple options available for the novice runner to begin training for a specific goal safely. First, consider getting a health screen from your primary care physician to make sure that it is safe to begin running. If cleared for running, then seek some guidance and structure for training. If you are reading this article, then you have already started the guidance that you need with Big River Running’s START program. EXCELLENT CHOICE!! This program provides a safe structure for training, and it also allows for social interaction, which can be very motivating. So enjoy the START program and Good Luck on your upcoming 5k.
Please remember, when you become a more experienced runner, you can still be at risk for a potential injury if you are not careful. Often experienced runners (both competitive and recreational) begin to have pain when they make significant changes to their training intensity or duration. Consider the cross country athlete that runs for maintenance over the summer and then has to rapidly increase his or her mileage at the beginning of cross country season in the Fall. Also consider the runner that decides to incorporate speed work into a training program to increase his or her performance. This is a reasonable idea. However, if the speed work is progressed to fast, injury can result. Understand that the body must adapt to changes in physical stress on the body and this adaptation takes time. If the body is not given time to adapt to changes in physical stress (as in the examples above), pain and injury can result (just as in the novice runner). Therefore, any change made to a training program should be made gradually. This allows the body to adapt and to become stronger as training progresses, thereby, minimizing the risk of injury.
Ask yourself this question when initiating a running program or making a change to your training program…”Would I rather be running at a significantly higher intensity or duration in 1 month or would I like to maintain a certain level of running for years”. Most runners would like to ensure that they will be able to run for years to come. To improve your performance and to keep running for years to come….progress your training gradually.