Getting Ready for Running Season

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by Chris Raymond

Typically, when the nice weather shows up there is an increase of activity outside. Runners specifically get a chance to hit the hard pavement again and expect to run the same mileage as on the treadmill all winter. Those expectations are often high and can lead to injury.  To reduce the risk of injury you can follow 3 main principles of exercise and these are SAID, progressive overload, and variation in training.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand (SAID) means only the muscles involved with the activity will adapt to change. This means that when someone is running on the treadmill those muscles are developed specifically to run on the treadmill. Outside running creates a different demand on the body such as the need for running economy, posture, and stability.  This principle is important to know for injury prevention because of the need to recognize the change in demand (treadmill to pavement).  Now that we have recognized there is a specific change in demand, let us look at the second principle to know about exercise.

Progressive overload by definition of ACSM says the body adapts to a given stimulus, and increase in stimulus is required for further adaptations and improvements.  An increase in stimulus can come from many variables such as frequency, intensity, time, and type. Of those that are listed intensity happens to be the last variable manipulated to create an increase in stimulus. So, progressive overload means in this case as running for longer durations, then more frequently throughout the week and then increasing the intensity. The intensity in this case is the pavement, meaning that there is more impact on the body from treadmill to pavement. If there isn’t an appropriate progression then there will be a higher risk of injury or no adaptation occurring.

Variation in training is a principle that is used to change stimulus over time to optimize training potential and recovery.  A shift to outdoor running to pavement requires more recovery as well as variety. Examples of variation in training could be trail running, swimming, or biking. This gives adequate rest to pavement running while continued progress towards your goal.   This principle also ties in with the two previous principles of training which means there is no specific right way to train.  We need variation, progression, and specific adaptations to optimize our bodies for individualized goals.  Being aware of these training variables will reduce your likelihood of injury and give more fun to your workout plan.  

Injury prevention should do just that; prevent injury not preventing re-injury after the damage is done. An ideal situation for someone who is transitioning from indoor running to outdoor running should progress slowly for optimizing results.  Add one day of pavement running every few weeks based on your level of abilities and supplement your workout with treadmill or trail running if possible. Don’t forget to utilize other modes such as biking, hiking, swimming, or kayaking.  

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