By Katie Snowdon
Physiotherapist and Triathlete
Determined to get back into the swing of things after a busy summer? Ready to hit the trails on a beautiful crisp morning? Inspired to start a running routine before the winter months? Here are my top “return-to-running” tips that will help keep you injury-free:
1. Start slowly! If it has been weeks or months since you have thrown on your running shoes, be sure to increase your mileage gradually to prevent overuse injuries. A walk / jog approach is a smart way to start, increasing your time / distance by no more than 10% each week.
2. Do not run on consecutive days. Give your body the time it needs to recover from the increased loading on its tissues. Cross-training (ie. cycling, swimming) on non-running days will help flush out your legs so you will be ready to rock your next run!
3. CORE! CORE! CORE! Adding several core exercises to your routine will help prevent running-related injuries. The stronger your core, the less stress is placed on your peripheral joints and tissues. Here are two examples:
Resisted knees to chest: engage your abdominals, hold for 5 seconds, and repeat 12 times
Glute bridges: squeeze your abdominals, hold for 5 seconds, and repeat 12 times
4. Foam rolling. If you have access to a foam roller, take the time to roll out your quads, IT bands, glutes, and hamstrings pre- and/or post-run. This will help keep your muscles loose and aid in recovery.
5. Run on different surfaces. Hit the streets of Toronto, get lost in the trails around the city or in cottage country, and jaunt around a grassy park. Changing up the running surface will help decrease the stress on your body and keeps things interesting!
6. Find a running partner. Although running solo is often enjoyable and therapeutic, you can also use this time to catch up with an old friend, let your dog blow off steam, or have the kids tag along beside you on their bikes. Everyone will benefit from the fresh air and exercise.
7. Take the time to embrace your surroundings. Say hello to a fellow runner. Notice the beauty of the fall colours. Find stillness in your breathing and the crispness of the air. Enjoy this immersive experience.
8. Most importantly, treat yourself post-run! There’s nothing better than an ice-cold beer or smoothie! You earned it.