Hi everyone, this month I’m going to be doing something slightly different. Those of you that know me will probably know that I’m not a fan of running. I don’t mind the gym; I love playing soccer but I pretty much despise going out for a run for the sake of getting fit. This is something I am looking to change over the next few months, safe in the knowledge that I’m doing it to help with my soccer and to reduce the risk of nasty issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
As I’m now in my mid to late 30’s, and I’d like to continue playing soccer for the foreseeable future, so I have decided to purchase some running shoes and hit the bitumen. Then I thought, why not share my journey with you guys in the hope that it might inspire, help or inform if you are thinking you’d like to do the same thing.
Starting running can be quite a challenge and there are lots of questions that I asked myself:
How far do I run?
How quickly do I progress my distance?
Should I be doing other exercises to help?
Should I stretch before/after or both? (check out the video on Facebook from February)
So, let’s start with my rationale for selecting a distance. I figure that during a game of soccer I’m likely to run approximately 7-8km during a 90 minutes (far less than the pro’s as is it an over 35’s league). A lot of this will be stop and start in nature with sprints intermittently and occasional moments where I get a complete rest (think ball out of play and half time). With this in mind I have decided to focus on two areas of running. Put simply I will start building up my tolerance to running 5km and I will also begin some interval training that might involve some sprints with rest periods in between. Initially, I will train these two components separately but in the longer term will look to combine them.
If I address the 5km run first, there are some great apps and tools that I could readily use. The Couch to 5k app is certainly a market leader and provides a structured way to begin a running program. The premise is that you walk and run at different ratios and over a number of weeks you do more running than walking until you can run a full 5km. I’m not going to follow this completely, but I am going to use similar principles to re-introduce running and reduce the chance of picking up niggles and injuries. Off the back of last season, I managed to end up with pain in my right achilles tendon, right sided groin pain and I usually wake up with lower back pain after every game I play.
To help combat these niggles and injuries, I will be coupling running with strength and conditioning. This has now been in place since before Christmas and I have been attending the gym 3-4 times per week for the past 2-3 months. I have been working on improving my strength in my legs and torso as well as incorporating some general upper body weights. I have enlisted the help of my friend and colleague, Jack Whitelaw (exercise physiologist) who works at Life gym in Edgewater. Jack has been kind enough to write me a fantastic strengthening program which we review monthly. I’d highly recommend getting some help with this side of things, especially if you need that external motivation to keep going to the gym.
Dave Running Program to Begin mid December 2022:
Week/Day 1 2 3
1 3km- 300m walk to 300m run 3km- 500m walk to 500m run 4km- 500m walk to 500m run
2 4km – 400m walk to 600m run 5km 500m walk to 500m run 5km 400m walk to 600m run
3 5km – 400m walk to 600m run 5km 200m walk to 800m run 5km 250m walk to 1000m run
4 5km- slow 5km run (taking a break at 2.5km if needed) 5km run (taking a break at 3km if needed) 5km run
This program means that over 4 weeks and 12 runs I will reach my target of running 5km continuously without taking break. I anticipate that my calf and achilles will get a little bit sore and I will probably experience some lower back pain following my first few runs. However, by building up slowly and the foundational strengthening exercises that have been ongoing for the past few months I am hoping this will be kept to a minimum.
The above program is by no means evidence based. It is based on my perception of what I feel that I can achieve on previous experience and my knowledge as a health professional. I would strongly recommend using one of the apps, such as the Couch to 5k as mentioned above if you have never been running before. What is important here is that you have a plan! It will keep you motivated and give you a path to follow for a desired outcome.
Fortunately, I live in an area where we have a fantastic exercise park. I am going to use this to my advantage. It is a set of stairs that goes to the top of a sand dune and a winding path back down to the roadside. My plan for this is straightforward. I am going to build up the number of circuits that I do. I have some experience of this from last year in my pre-season for soccer and I know that I could comfortably do around 8 circuits. The hard work will be going up the stairs and my recovery will be the jog back down the winding path. I will aim to do this once a week through December and mid-January before adding the interval training onto the back of my 5km runs as soon as I feel able to.
As second drill that I like to do introduces some lateral movements. This is particularly important for sport preparation and will also help with my groin pain if introduced slowly. The drill follows the pattern of a capital “I”.
For this exercise I start off in the middle and bottom of the “I” and I take 5 side steps (medium pace) to the left. Then I change direction and move 10 side steps to the right followed by another 5 side steps to the left meaning that I end up back at my starting point. As soon as I hit that point I accelerate forwards in a straight line approximately 20 metres and then repeat the side steps to form the top of the “I”. This is followed by a brief rest before I go again.
In a nutshell, that is my plan:
- Gradual increase in running over time
- Interval train
- Gym exercises
What I’d really like to do is share this journey with you guys from a Physiotherapist perspective. There will be times when I don’t feel like running, when I pick up niggles or even when I need some treatment from my colleagues. Over the next few months, I will share my experiences through videos on our Facebook page so please head over and check them out.
If this peaks your interest in starting running but you’re not sure where to start I would love to hear from you. You can even book in to one of our Physio’s who are well versed in performing a screening assessment to see if you might need to work on strengthening or biomechanics before you start up.