Three Ways to Avoid Spring Training Injuries
By Rick Morris
Did you take the winter off or did you decrease your winter training level? If you did, the spring season is the time to pay the piper. It’s not that time off or a period of decreased training quantity and intensity is a bad thing. Recovery times are good things. They allow your body to recover and rejuvenate after a year of hard training and running. But, that time off also probably decreased your fitness, endurance and strength just a bit. Now you must rebuild. Jumping right back into your previous full speed training habits may seem like a good idea but it can be risky. Overusing muscles that have been on spring break can be the cause of a number of distance running related injuries. If you need some spring training, you can do it safely with very little risk of injury with just a few simple tips. Here are some ways to avoid spring training injuries.
Old School Screw Up
By far the most common and popular way of engaging in spring training is with the old school method of base training in which you focus almost exclusively on long, slow distance running. The idea of this old school method is to build a base of endurance and then add in more quality runs such as interval training, tempo runs and lactate threshold training. Sounds logical, but is it really a good idea? I don’t think so. Is a strong base really composed only of endurance? Not really. A strong base includes an endurance component, but it also includes strong, injury resistant muscles, a base speed component and an enhanced metabolic component such as a higher lactate threshold. Include some strength building hill runs, short interval training sessions and some tempo training along with your long slow distance running to build a true injury resistant and fitness enhancing base.
Warm It Up and Cool It Down
Probably the best way to protect your muscles, joints and connective tissues from distance running injuries is a proper warm up and cool down. A warm up will improve your pre run functional range of motion and get both your muscles and joints up to proper operating temperatures; much like warming up your car. A post run cool down will safely get your body back down to a resting state and the post run stretching exercises will improve your muscle resiliency and flexibility.
Stride with Strength
Never forget that a strong base includes strong muscles. Hill running will certainly improve your running strength, but you also need some spring strength training to maximize that base of strength. Your muscles will be more powerful and injury resistant. That base of muscle strength is also going to be critical when you begin your power and speed building plyometric exercises later in your training schedule.