Now that we have finally reached the point where we can step outside without seeing our breath, some of you more “fair-weather” individuals may be considering getting into shape for the summer season.
As a Physiotherapist, it never fails that during the first two months of warmer weather I see a significant increase in “overuse” injuries hobbling into the clinic.
Most of us, myself included, have started a training routine and maybe started doing a bit too much, way too soon. Always feeling good at the beginning, happy to be getting back into shape, but then gradually starting to notice those little aches and pains. It’s when those nagging issues are ignored that I eventually see you in a Physiotherapy session.
As much as I enjoy working with all of you active go-getters, I know that you would all prefer to be working out towards your health goals outside in the sun.
I would like to share some ideas and tips for safe training progressions and signs of over-training for both walkers and runners so that you can do just that!
5 Essential Tips for Building a Walk/Run Training Program
1.Walking is a workout
Many people feel that they need to start off a training regime immediately with a running program. This is not the case! If you are relatively new to the whole idea of aerobic training, walking may be the place to start.
Walking is a great place to start because it imitates running in terms of the arm swing and leg motion; however it results in less impact on the joints. I often recommend that if someone is looking to get into running they should start building up their walking endurance first. This may mean starting at 15 minutes of walking and gradually building up the time over the course of a few months.
For those that already do a decent amount of walking per day, the next step before progressing into running may be increasing the intensity of the walk. This could mean increasing the pace of your walk to one where you could talk if you had to, but you’d rather not since the effort would make both talking and breathing at the same time difficult.
2. Go see a footwear specialist for a proper walking/running shoe fitting
Whenever starting a training program getting a new pair of supportive, comfortable shoes is a good idea. Shoes can play a big part in absorbing shock and encouraging proper bio-mechanics depending on your unique foot shape and walking/running style. When you go to buy a new pair of shoes, ensure that the salesperson watches you walk before bringing out shoes for you to try on – this way they should be able to pick a type of shoe that will work best for your foot type.
If you are someone who’s had chronic foot, knee or hip pain and/or have a very fallen or a really high arch of your foot you may want to look into getting a pair of orthotics.
At Nose Creek Sport Physiotherapy we are excited to be launching our orthotic program this month. Using a force-sensitive plate, we can custom design an orthotic for you based off of dynamic and static readings as you walk across and stand on the plate.
3. Plan out your training in advance
It’s always a good idea to structure your training ahead of time. If you have a training goal a few months down the road, plan your training weeks up until that point. A typical training week should have a good balance of easy, hard and rest days. It may look like this:
Day 1 – Medium Length Walk/Run
Day 2 – Short, Faster Paced Workout
Day 3 – Rest or Cross-Train
Day 4 – Short, Faster Paced Workout
Day 5 – Long Run/Walk
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Short Run/Walk
This ensures that you are not doing all of your hard, long workouts clumped together during the week and the rest days give your body the chance to recover in between workout sessions.
4. Never increase mileage by more than 10% per week
The generally rule is that you should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% per week. This increase is small enough to allow your body to adapt to the increased strain/impact and will prevent the development of injuries from doing too much, too soon.
5. Cross-train, cross-train!
Cross-training is a key to any training regime. This can consist of any physical activity that works different muscles than the usual training that you do. If you are a walker or runner, cross-training should be something that is relatively non-weightbearing in order to give your joints a rest. Common activities are biking, pool aerobics and swimming. Feel free to substitute a run/walk workout with cross-training if your body is feeling a little sore or you are experiencing some aches and pains.
Signs of Over-training
1)Nagging aches and pains
It is often a sign that an injury is progressing when you go from just having pain towards the end of your walk/run to eventually having pain even when you are not working out, and finally you have the pain all the time, including significant pain at night.
An example of this progression would be from having a mild case of shin splints that eventually reaches the point of a tibial stress fracture, resulting in pain at night as well as during activity.
2) Chronically elevated resting heart rate
Heart rate is a good, reliable measure that can monitor recovery. It is often recommended to take your heart rate manually (e.g. finger on the pulse on your neck or wrist) before you stand up out of bed in the morning. Monitor this number – if you notice that number increase from its usual value and stay elevated for a few days to weeks, this could be a sign that your body has not fully recovered from the previous workouts and you may need an extra “easy” day thrown in.
Keep in mind, there is a significant amount of variability in one’s heart rate. Don’t be concerned if you heart rate is 2-5 beats per minute higher than normal, as this could be normal fluctuation or simply a manual heart rate calculating error. If you are 7-10 beats per minute higher than usual then consider taking your training easier that day. If you feel as though your heart is constantly racing or skipping beats, go see your Doctor.
3) Restless sleeping
You would think that after a good workout in the day you would have a great, well-deserved sleep. If, however, your sleep is disrupted, you have trouble falling asleep or you just feel restless lying in bed these could be signs that you are over-trained.
4) You are getting sick more frequently
Often when we get sick more often than usual or it takes longer to get over a typical cold than normal it might indicate that our immune system is compromised. This may be the result of over-training as all of the body’s energy and supplies are going towards healing the body following an intense training schedule and there are not enough reserves to defend it against actual attacks on the immune system.
5) You simply aren’t enjoying your training anymore
If workouts that you used to enjoy and felt great after are now seeming more like a chore and you are feeling like you have to drag yourself through the workout or fight to get out the door, it may be your body and mind’s way of telling you that it’s time to cut back on the training for a bit.
Oftentimes, cutting down on training can result in a newfound love for it again and have you come out re-energized!
I would love to help you achieve your fitness and health goals and get you moving faster, and feeling better!
If you have any questions about your training schedule, please feel free to give me, Grace Kary, MScPT, BSc, a call at 403.800.3373 to book your assessment today!