There are only SIXTEEN days to go until the start gun goes off for Sydney’s City2Surf, 2018. The event has been running for 47 years, having had a humble start in 1971 with only 1,500 entrants. It has been growing ever since, attracting participants from all walks of life and of all ages. This year, over 80,000 participants are anticipated to take part in the 14 km race.
As many of those participants will be increasing their running mileage in preparation for the race, unfortunately, this increases the risk of injury and, indeed, we see many injured runners hobbling through our doors at this time of the year. So, what can you do to avoid becoming one of many who suffer an injury just weeks before the race?
Exploring the research literature reveals that the greatest causal factor for running injuries is – not surprisingly – running! However, the solution is not to stop running. So what else, more specifically, causes running injuries?
A study published in 2014 by Saragiotto et al. asked runners what they think causes running injuries. The common answers given were:
- Not stretching
- Not warming up
- Wearing the wrong shoes
- Lack of strength
- Excessive training
- Unbalanced diet
- Not respecting the body’s limitations
The research literature, does not agree with a number of these beliefs as to what actually causes running injuries. There is currently no evidence to support the notions that stretching before or after a run, wearing the correct shoes, or eating a balanced diet significantly reduces running injuries. However, an extensive study of all available research by Baxter et al (research in Sports Medicine Journal, 2017) does conclude that progressive warm-up prior to exercise which incorporates graded intensity may be beneficial in preventing injury.
The runners interviewed in the Saragiotto (2014) study were correct in stating that excessive training causes running injuries. It has been estimated that 60-80% of running injuries are due to training error, where the training load exceeds the capacity of the tissue to tolerate that load. This normally occurs when the increase in running volume (how much), intensity (how hard), and frequency (how often) is too rapid for the tissues to adapt.
Physiotherapists are experienced in helping you to identify training error and your own individual tissue tolerance. An injury in the previous twelve months and a higher body mass index has been linked to a higher risk of sustaining a running injury.
When planning your training during the final stages of your City2Surf preparation, consider these tips:
- Train ‘smart’ by including rest days in your training regimen, especially after intense training days, as your body needs time to recover.
- Athletes are recommended to individualize their training programmes in order to promote performance responses: here is where a Physio can help
- Include strength and conditioning training in your running routine, this has been demonstrated to reduce injury risk and improve performance.
- Track your running to monitor your weekly running volumes, to avoid a sudden increase in your weekly mileage.
- Be realistic about what can be achieved in the final 12 days before the race.
Good luck for the 2018 City2Surf and, most importantly, enjoy it!