How Not to Run (When Recovering From an Injury)

Cross train

Cross training is a good way of avoiding the crushing guilt that coincides with a sudden break from your running routine. Swimming, cycling and walking are all low impact cardio exercises which can maintain your fitness whilst you are out of commission.

Anecdotally, cross-training is an exercise improves running times. Whether it maintains your running ability or even improves it, it is healthy to keep a relatively active routine whilst nursing your injury.

Strength exercises

Alongside your cross training, take the extra time to strengthen stabilising muscles and potentially alleviate any injury related pain you may have.

12 repetitions of sun salutation is a simple way to slip healing exercises into your day while recovering. If you are less acquainted with yoga routines check out Runner’s World’s recovery routine which walks you through their running specific exercises here.

Other exercises which will strengthen your legs and stave off injury for when you get back on the horse are slightly less exotic. Planks, squats, bird dogs, pistol squats, lunges, heel raises etc. are all effective and will be fundamental in keeping you running in the future.

Relax and recover

Put your feet up, read a book (I’d recommend Feet in the Clouds) or watch a documentary (The Barkley Marathons on Netflix, perhaps). Or, if you are like me, keep away from running movies as you might end up excitedly slipping your running shoes on prematurely. The point here is to simply… relax.

With the time that you might have spent running, don’t feel like you are wasting it lying down on the couch. If you are going to recover, you will need to rest and if you are going to rest you must relax. Put your feet up… preferably elevated above your head.

Finally…

Generally, a runner can take two weeks off from running before seeing their fitness deteriorate. After two weeks it will take the same amount of time training as time rested to achieve your previous running fitness.

Two weeks is a long time – take solace in that and tackle the above exercises casually (especially the Netflix and reading).

4 Unexpected Benefits of Running

Running is one of the most popular means of exercise for a reason. We all know that running can help you lose weight, increase your endurance and boost your general health but what other (and more obscure) benefits does being a runner entail?

LOWER RESTING HEART RATES

Every runner tries to hide their smile when complimented by the nurse for an “excellent” resting heart rate (RHR) but a lower RHR is not just a means of impressing medical professionals, it can have beneficial health implications too.

A healthy resting heart rate is an important factor in staving off heart disease. Studies show that just a 12-week moderate aerobic training plan can reduce your heart rate by around 3 beats per minute (BPM).

A healthy resting heart rate is considered to be within the 60 – 100 BPM range but one study found that someone with a resting heart rate above 84 BPM over the course of 5 years would be 55% more likely to die from heart disease than someone with a lower RHR.

BETTER SLEEP

Can you think of anyone who doesn’t enjoy sleep? No, me neither. We all love to sleep and most people probably do not think they get enough of it. Well, guess what? Running helps!

A 2010 study suggests that the more aerobic exercise one gets, the more sleep one can enjoy. Research into the relationship between aerobic exercise and sleeping hygiene found that a 16-week training plan led to improvements in sleep latency, sleep duration, daytime dysfunction, and sleep efficiency.

Further encouraging benefits this particular study uncovered involved fewer depressive symptoms and increased daytime energy levels.

MORE ENERGY IN THE DAY

Running gives you energy – this statement might be counterintuitive but hear me out.

Running certainly tires you out in the short term (as it should) but long-term benefits of consistent exercise mean that it is easier to wake up in the mornings and have enough fuel to get through a day of work without crashing before lunchtime.

Running is one of the most effective ways of increasing your cardiovascular health, building muscle and balancing your body fat composition – these benefits are all connected to increased energy and quality of life.

IT IS ACTUALLY ENJOYABLE

I think the most unexpected benefits that I have personally found running is that it is actually enjoyable. I would even go so far as to say that running is fun. Crazy, isn’t it?

I would bet that a considerable number of people believe running to be a boring means of exercise. I thought this too until I began to run faster times, longer workouts and worked on my form. Once I started improving, it became a game.

I do admit, sometimes running is definitely not fun, but more often than not it is hugely rewarding. If you don’t expect to like it, you might be pleasantly surprised.