What should be taken into account when returning to work after a long break from injury?

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Zehnder_FranziskaAutor: Franziska Zehnder, Head of Performance Diagnostics Sports and Movement Scientist MAS Nutrition and Health at Medbase Zürich Löwenstrasse, Sports Medical Center

Medbase running.coach

 

 

 

An injury during the preparation or competition phase can severely disrupt the course of the season and lead to a significant reduction in physical performance. The longer the rest phase lasts, the more time must be invested in reconstruction. However, once the physical and psychological setback has been overcome, many positive aspects of the development can be gained.

The optimal cadence and stride length for runners

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There are many ways to reach your running goals. The optimal training with a good balance between load and recovery is one performance factor, running technique is another. Stride length and cadence are two aspects that often cause questions. So, it is high time to shed some light on these two topics.

Treadmill training for runners

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Treadmill running is ideal for interval training and to improve your technique. But for it to be effective, it needs a trick. And there are special treadmills for rehabilitation – on which the runners regularly shine with joy.

Training on the treadmill has several advantages:

  • Firstly, the performance is very well trackable. Heart rate, distance, pace – the display always provides all important information.
  • Second, the treadmill is ideal for interval training, running technique training and performance diagnostics.
  • Thirdly, it saves you the trouble of training outdoors in rough weather.
  • And fourthly, it can be a great help in cases of overload damage, rehabilitation or overweight – as long as you get on the right treadmill.

Training on a treadmill is basically similar to running outdoors, but it requires less energy. In “normal” running, the body is actively moved forward over the supporting leg. On the treadmill, on the other hand, the supporting leg under the body is “pulled away”. In addition, there is less air resistance and warmer temperatures inside. All this means that treadmill training is less of an effort at a comparable speed – although this is all the more important at a higher speed: at a speed of 8 km/h, for example, runners on the treadmill use around five percent less energy compared to running outdoors, while at 15 km/h 10 percent less energy is required.

This can be compensated by adjusting the treadmill to one percent incline, from a speed of 15 km/h to two percent incline. In this way, you use about the same amount of energy on the treadmill as outside.

In addition, on the treadmill, you should make sure that the cadence is somewhat higher. It can be easily controlled and corrected if necessary. The rolling phase, core position, running pattern – all of these can be observed more precisely here than in outdoors. That’s why the treadmill is so well suited for analysing your running style and for technical training – with one limitation: on the treadmill, the muscles are put under slightly different conditions than outside.

Multitasking required

A disadvantage of the treadmill is that it permanently demands high concentration from the runner. Beginners often make the mistake of setting the pace too high, forgetting that it takes a certain amount of time to adjust to it. If you feel insecure in the beginning, it is best to be guided and supervised.

Because the band keeps going, you have to be more focused than on well known, undemanding tracks outside (and remember not to hold on to the handles). Also in terms of coordination and “multi-tasking”, the band initially challenges the runner more than the usual off-road running. If you should stumble, the emergency stop immediately turns the device off (if you have activated it).

Developed by the NASA

A special feature are anti-gravity treadmills such as the “Alter G” treadmill. The technology behind them was originally developed by the US space agency NASA. These special treadmills are – simply because of their price – so far only established in medical training, sports medicine and sports physiotherapy.

The Alter-G treadmill is a treadmill in which the runner first climbs into “neoprene shorts” that tightly surround him. The entire lower body is then in an air chamber and can be lifted from below by means of air pressure, which relieves the legs. The feet still remain on the ground. When inflated, this anti-gravity chamber reduces up to 80 percent of your weight. Because the pressure can be changed in one-percent steps, it is very finely adjustable.

These treadmills are mainly used for rehabilitation or after injuries as well as operations of the lower extremities or the lumbar spine. The anti-gravity treadmill enables adapted training in the event of stress injuries such as “runner’s knee” and problems with the Achilles tendon or patellar tendon. Patients with neurological diseases can also benefit from this or people who are overweight and want to walk without putting too much strain on their joints.

The main aim of the anti-gravity treadmill is to rehearse the running pattern in early rehabilitation and to activate learning processes. In addition, the movement stimulates the blood circulation.

Thanks to anti-gravity treadmill training, the usual phase of hobbling, for example after an operation on the leg, is often “skipped” because the patient is already “trained” by the moment he or she is allowed to fully exercise again.

During this medical training, which must be prescribed by a doctor, the physiotherapist can follow the weight distribution and running pattern closely. New models of the anti-gravity treadmill also analyse stride length and weight distribution on both sides.

Tips before buying a treadmill:

If you are thinking about buying a treadmill, you are faced with an abundance of offers: Treadmills and curved treadmills that simulate running on soft forest paths, treadmills that put athletes in virtual worlds and are intended to make training more entertaining are just a few examples.

  • It is best to test different models and see which one suits you best.
  • It is important that the treadmill achieves a speed of at least 20 km/h and delivers sufficient power.
  • Another important aspect is maintenance: how often is it necessary, what does it cost, can you do it yourself?

Author: Evelyne Vonarburg Schwarz, Dipl. Physiotherapeutin FH, Sportphysiotherapeutin SPT, Stv. Leiterin Therapien Medbase Luzern Allmend

Medbase running.coach

Barefoot running – pros and cons

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Running barefoot changes the running mechanics. This can be advantageous in case of knee problems. But it is important to allow yourself enough time for the adjustment.

Roberto-LIano-14Author: Dr. med. Roberto Llano, Specialist for General Internal Medicine FMH, Sports Medicine SGSM, Head of Medicine Medbase Bern Westside

 

 

In childhood barefoot walking was common practice in summer. Adults, on the other hand, hardly do it anymore. And the runners are divided: For some runners barefoot running is almost like a religion, for others it is totally frowned upon. Both sides have good arguments – but there is little scientific proof. What is certain, however, is that the biomechanics of barefoot running are significantly different from those that are used when wearing shoes. Various studies have shown this.

With shoes, the runner becomes a backfoot runner. This means that the runner places the foot on the heel and rolls over the entire foot. In barefoot running, on the other hand, the midfoot touches the ground first and then rolls a little over the forefoot. The front part of the foot is angled less upwards (dorsiflexion) and the knees are stretched less. This shortens the stride length.

When running barefoot, the foot skeleton absorbs more shocks, so that the transmission of force upwards is less than when the heel lands first. This reduces the load on joints such as the patellofemoral joint, where the kneecap glides along the thigh bone. For runners with kneecap problems, such as osteoarthritis, barefoot walking can therefore be an option. The same applies to back pain.

However, the two biggest advantages of barefoot running are that it trains the foot muscles and trains perception for the underground. Many people use their eyes to orient themselves when walking and running. The feeling for the situation in the room, on the other hand, often withers because it is trained too little. You notice how much, for example, when you try to walk on a line painted on the floor with your eyes closed. At the latest, however, when your eyesight deteriorates with age, a good sense of the ground is all the more important. Barefoot walking trains this perception for the position of the feet in space.

It also offers advantages in other respects, as various typical runner injuries occur less frequently for barefoot runners. These include, for example, inflammation of the sole of the foot fascia (plantar fasciitis), iliotibial syndrome with pain on the outside of the knee or hip and problems with the muscles on the back of the thigh (hamstrings).

To conclude from this that barefoot walking is generally better would be wrong. For example, it causes more problems with the Achilles tendon, the calf muscles and it also leads more frequently to injuries to the sole of the foot. However, barefoot walking per se is not more unhygienic than walking in shoes, as long as you wash your feet afterwards.

If you want to start running barefoot, you are well advised to proceed gently and slowly. Because every experienced runner has a well-established running pattern that cannot be changed overnight. As mentioned, both the foot mechanics and the foot muscles change when running barefoot – and that takes months. Over time, the soles of the feet also become more resistant and can endure an amazing amount. In the beginning, the feet quickly become hot when walking barefoot. You can feel every muscle. This is a good sign. And at the same time the signal to stop. Because it should not become more, in order not to overload the feet. If you expect too much of yourself, you risk a stress fracture of the metatarsal bone in extreme cases. A good idea is to cover only a short part of the usual distance barefoot at the beginning and gradually cover an ever longer part. Or to do the running drills barefoot, but then put on the training shoes again.

Whether barefoot running brings faster times in competition is an open question. There were some competitive athletes who competed barefoot. As a rule, however, you run the fastest with the technique you have learned.

A compromise between running barefoot or in shoes is minimal or “barefoot” shoes, of which there are now many models. As far as running mechanics are concerned, they stand between both types of running. However, the exercise profile is similar to that of normal training shoes. But the same applies to miniature shoes: Give your feet time to change!

female bare feet on white background

Tips:

  • Walking barefoot is healthy. However, barefoot walking should only be done on suitable ground, for example in the forest. Asphalt or other hard surfaces are unsuitable.
  • Running barefoot is not per se more unhygienic than running in shoes. However, injuries to the soles of the feet are more common. Therefore, wash your feet well afterwards and pay attention to good foot care. Daily checks for injuries are important. With the right training, however, the sole of the foot adapts surprisingly well and becomes much more resistant.
  • If you are used to walking barefoot, you can also do this in winter. As long as you run, your feet are well supplied with blood. It is not advisable to run over ice plates or go for a barefoot mountain hike.
  • People with diabetes or sensory disorders on their feet (neuropathy) should not walk barefoot. They feel any injuries or overexertion less well. Diabetes can also affect the immune system and blood circulation, so small wounds can quickly become stubborn ulcers.
  • For special foot shapes (e.g. hollow foot), consult a specialist beforehand. If at all, then only very slowly change over to barefoot walking.

Medbase running.coach

Tips for running on sand

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This blog post is provided by the Swiss magazine FIT for LIFE. If you’re interested in reading informative articles about running and endurance sports on a regular basis, click here (Website and content in German)

What is seldom found in everyday life, is often available in abundance during the holidays: a grainy, fine sandy beach and the desire to run on it. Let us show you the best tips for injury-free running training on sand.

When the sun bathes the beach in a golden light at dawn and the waves slosh gently over the sand, endurance athletes feel the urge to run. For enthusiastic runners, beach runs are just as much a part of a perfect holiday by the sea as homemade gelato on the piazza in the evening. But what applies to ice cream also applies to running training on sand: high quantities are rarely digestible. It is therefore worth planning your training carefully and moderately to prevent injuries.

Quite the workout

Important note: Not all sand is the same. It plays a decisive role whether you walk on soft sand or close to the water on solid (and sloping) sand. The soft sandy soil absorbs the forces actively developed during running. For a similar propulsion as on asphalt, almost twice as much energy is needed. Anyone who almost exclusively runs on tar in damped shoes in everyday life will suddenly feel his foot and calf muscles considerably when running on ankle-deep sand. All the more so when doing it barefoot, as the running style naturally shifts to the forefoot or midfoot.

The other side of the coin: Frequent running in the sand quickly leads to overloading of the locomotor system if the foot and calf muscles are insufficiently trained. Heel spur, shin split or hamstring problems can be the result of an excessive training on sand.

Hard sand is harder than expected and therefore similar to running on asphalt in terms of its effect on the muscles. Whoever euphorically completes an hour-long barefoot run on hard sand at the beginning of the holiday will certainly be punished the next day with sore muscles in the calves. The most important rules of thumb for sand running are, in brief:

  • Start with short units and carefully increase.
  • The looser the ground, the shorter (but more qualitative!) the running unit.
  • The longer the training, the more compellingly, shoes have to be worn.

With running shoes on the beach

For those who do their running training on sand with shoes many possibilities for training design will open up:

  • Warm-up: To train your coordination skills, walk and trot alternately through loose sand at a slow pace for about 10-15 minutes. The deeper the shoes sink into the sand, the more demanding. Experts can also run sideways or backwards as they like, incorporate small jumps or butt kickers.
  • Strength training: Run through the sand for 5-20 minutes to strengthen the ankle joints and leg muscles. Start on firmer sand at a slow pace, then vary the surface and duration. Do not exaggerate, slowly approach the harder intensity!
  • Endurance run: A relaxed endurance run of 45-70 minutes (depending on your training condition!) should ideally be carried out along the waterline. This means where the damp sand is firm and the sinking in is reduced to a minimum. If the beach slopes steeply, do without longer units and change the running direction regularly. In an inclined position the risk of injury and overstraining is high!

Barefoot in the sand

If you walk through the sand with bare feet, you not only do something good for your muscles, you also treat your soles with a soothing massage. Barefoot is the most comfortable way to walk on soft sand.

It should be noted that, depending on the walking speed and the nature of the sand, the skin of the soles of the feet is stressed and coarse-grained sand can quickly cause chafing. It is therefore advisable to incorporate the following exercises into a “sand programme”:

  • Walking exercises: Walk either on the tips of your toes or on your heels, focusing on or crossing the inner and outer edges. In between, draw shapes or letters in the sand.
  • Strength training: Run through the sand for 5-20 minutes to strengthen the hocks and leg muscles. Start on firmer sand at a slow pace, then vary the surface and duration. Do not exaggerate, slowly approach greater intensity! Also install skippers or long jumps and walk a few meters to relieve the strain. Stop immediately in case of pain.
  • Foot gymnastics: These are done best before running training for 5-15 minutes. Dig your feet loosely into the sand and rotate against the resistance to the outside and inside as well as take flex and point positions. Pick up small stones, shells or branches lying around on the beach with your toes. Run in a straight line, one foot in front of the other. The are no limits to your imagination.

 

Translated by: Denise Kaufmann

 

Running faster and better – coordination helps!

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When we think about running, keywords such as endurance, speed or strength often cross our minds. But one important piece of the mosaic for efficient and successful running is often forgotten: coordination.

Coordination refers to the interaction of certain muscle groups for the optimal utilization of available forces and is geared toward a resulting maximization of performance. Thus, coordination can help runners to channel the trained muscle power correctly and to achieve the highest possible speed with the smallest possible loss of energy. With better coordination you can economize your running style. Another goal of coordination training is injury prevention. The most beautiful and dynamic movement possible during running can help to prevent overstraining.

Now, how do you actually train coordination? For runners, running form drills are particularly suitable. Running form drills is the term we use to describe exercises in which certain parts of the running movement are more or less isolated and exaggerated. The aim is again to improve the interaction of the muscle groups needed for the various movements. In the following videos, multiple orienteering World champion and one of the best female mountain and trail runners in the world, will show you how:

Ankle drill

The basic exercise for your ankles. The whole movement in the ankle is important here. The ball of the foot hardly lifts off the ground. The heel is responsible for the whole movement from bottom to top and back again. A stable upper body is important. The hip should not move sideways and the pelvis should not tilt. Also focus on arm work.

Walk like a stork

The stork walk is the perfect basic exercise for more stability, good hip extension and conscious walking. Our showcase model, multiple orienteering world champion and active runner Judith Wyder, shows this exercise in two variations: 1) flat foot and 2) on the toes.

Pogo jumps

With this exercise you train a strong kick from the calves. The whole movement mainly comes from the lower legs. The knees are as straight as possible. The tips of the toes point upwards during the flight phase and provide an active pre-tension. Keep an upright posture during the whole execution of this exercise.

Butt kicks

Being a popular running drill, this exercise promotes an active knee stroke and a longer stride length while running. Make sure that the foot is pulled under the buttocks and that the knee is slightly raised in front of you. The faster the cadence, the better the exercise.

With this exercise you can also play around a little and change the rhythm at will. You can find an example of how to do this here.

Skipping

Make sure your body’s center of gravity remains upright and that the knee or thigh reaches the horizontal. Try to stay stable in the torso and use your arms. The higher the cadence and knee height, the harder and more effective the exercise. This exercise can also be varied like the butt kickers exercise for example with several repetitions in a row on the same side.

For advanced users, the knee lift-hopper run and the heel-knee lift combination exercise are also recommended.

Pogo jumps with knee drive

This exercise is quite demanding in that it requires high concentration for the correct timing. The legs land at the same time, but the left and right leg are lifted alternately. The main work comes from the calves. This exercise can be done in a first form with only slightly bent legs (towards the skipping position). Then the height of the skipping can slowly be increased. Make sure that the ground contact is as short as possible.

Straight leg bounds

During this running form drill, we generate propulsion below the body’s center of gravity. The effort comes from the buttocks, the rear thighs and during an active running step also from the calves. Run this way over a distance of about 20 meters and then bend the legs a little more from step to step until you are in a brisk pace with high knees and a high cadence. Keep the pace up for a few seconds and make sure you have good coordination! When you hear a kind of dragging of the shoes on the ground, you’re doing it perfectly.

Jumping jacks

Again, here goes an exercise that needs a little sense of rhythm and, depending on the situation, a little bit of mobility. The height of the leg can and should be adjusted individually. The leg should only be lifted to a height where the upper body is still stable and does not bend. Also, make sure the arms do not move and that the shoulders are relaxed. At first sight this exercise may not have much to do with running, but we promise you it does!

For this exercise, we present you two variations as well. On the one hand there is a variation in which the jumping jack is moved forward and sideways (Link DE) and on the other hand there is a variation in which the arms are moved in addition to the legs (propeller).

In your running.COACH training schedule, some of these exercises will be suggested to you on predefined days and displayed in the form of training videos. That way, you are provided with both ideas and clear instructions for exercises in the fields of strength, foot gymnastics, relaxation or stretching for your training.

Those who have not yet been convinced by the arguments of an economizing of the running style and injury prevention should at the latest let themselves be persuaded by the following: It makes your running look better! When was the last time you asked yourself who this worn and slumped creature with your starting number on their chest is supposed to be on your finisher photo? Right? Told you… 😉 So, let’s go!

Have fun trying it out!

 

Composed by: Marion Aebi (Content Manager), based on inputs from Gabriel Lombriser (running coach and running.COACH product manager)

Stair climbing for runners

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Do you want to spice up your training? All you need is a staircase. With different staircase climbing variations you can train your leg strength specific to running and set a new stimulus. So, let’s go and say hello to your staircase challenge!

Benefits of stair climbing

  • You train your running-specific strength endurance.
  • Your impression (plyometrics) becomes more powerful. You will not only benefit from this when running uphill, but also on a flat surface, a space-filling step is of advantage. In addition, active footwork helps to stay injury-free.
  • It’s a very effective training and there is a new stimulus for the cardiovascular system.
  • The playful training brings variety to your winter workout and is also an ideal option concerning safety, as you can look for a lighted or even an inside staircase when it’s dark outside. Stair climbing as a training can of course also be included in summer workouts.

General tips for stair climbing:

  • Stair climbing should only be carried out when warmed up.
  • Caution in wet conditions: You might want to switch to an indoor option.
  • Stair climbing can be a good substitute for a short interval training unit.
  • Quality before quantity always applies to stair climbing, as a clean and dynamic execution is important to avoid injury.
  • During each execution, the body remains stable: Special attention applies to the torso, which should always be tightened during the training.
  • A cool down should be carried out afterwards. Nevertheless, you may feel the staircase training the next day with sore muscles, especially at the beginning.

Possible sequence of a staircase training unit

  • 10 to 15 minutes of warm up
  • Mobilize joints, 3 interval runs
  • 10 to 15 minutes of stair climbs in a row (more than one passage possible) – usually at full speed up and down. Choose your favorites of the exercise collection below (or try all of them!):
    • Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs (don’t forget to include a short break at the bottom of the stairs as this is intense, too)
    • Ankle jumps
    • Frequency runs sideways (both sides)
    • Squat jumps (if the downhill jumps are also included, again, take the break at the bottom of the stairs)
    • Sideway jumps
    • One-legged jumps (both legs)
  • 10 to 15 minutes of cool-down, then stretching

Collection of exercises: Stair climbing

The exercises will be shown by Judith Wyder, 5 times OL World Champion and one of the fastest runners of Switzerland.

Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs

In skipping, every step is done explosively, and the knee is pulled up. A good coordinative exercise is the staircase-downhill, but beware: start slowly!

Ankle jumps

The toes are actively pulled upwards, jumping off with your forefoot. The knees always point forward to ensure a good leg axis.

Frequency runs sideways

The movement is carried out at a 90° angle to the staircase. The leg frequency is high, and a coordinated arm work is key for this exercise.

Squat jumps

Squat jumps, also called frog jumps, can be varied depending on the level: Try to take 1, 2, 3 or 4 steps in one. The jumps can be dynamic or static, depending on the goal. A good leg axis is important for both. The downhill jumps should be approached carefully – Attention: We warned you about the potential of muscle soreness!

Sideway jumps

Power and coordination in one, no matter whether you exercise them statically or dynamically. This exercise is especially recommended for trail runners and cross-country skiers.

One-legged jumps

There’s more to these one-legged jumps than one might think, no matter if you take every step or jump over some of them. Also, the jumps should be carried out in an explosive way.

These videos have been kindly provided by indurance and Judith Wyder.

Author of this blog entry: Stefanie Meyer

Running on snowy ground: a tricky business

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Running has long become a sport for  all seasons, including winter. Many people even find running in the snow especially appealing. But caution! Training on snow poses some challenges to our locomotor system, which need to be handled right. Here the best tips.

You can see your own breath in front of your eyes, your cheeks prickle from humidity and coldness, the foamy powder snow scrunches below your feet at each step. The branches of the trees lean to the side threateningly at the weight of the snow. Even though you might have taken a lot of convition to get out for run, the feeling of pleasant exhaustion and happiness you get in a hot shower after a run out in the snow is definitely worth it.

Also in terms of health, nothing stands in the way for a run in the snow – on the contrary. Today, there are suitable shoes for any running activity, including winter. Good soles with grip, good stability, a robust mantle, maybe even with a waterproof membrane – and cold and wet feet belong to the past. No wonder more and more people run through nature even during winter.

As positive as the trend of running towards being a sport for the whole year may be, it is still important to remember that you cannot compare running on snow to running on steady and smooth surfaces like asphalt, or with a snow-free forest road. Put simply, there are three possbile types of snowy grounds to run on.

Fresh powder snow

A run in fresh powder snow is the most adventurous and the most popular form. However, it is not always possible. Depending on the snowfall, the situation can change considerably within a short time and this also affects our running style. The ideal amount is a layer of about 5-10 cm of very fresh poder snow. That way, the snow works as a cushioning mechanism for us runners, rendering each of your steps light and easy, just like on a woodchip trail. You literally fly through the snow. It gets a little trickier with a thicker layer of powder snow. Due to the height of the layer, you must lift the forward section of your feet upwards in order not to get stuck in the snow, just like you took a hurdle. For each landing you have to try and find steady ground to put your feet on, so that you can put all your weight down properly. The running technique for this kind of condition can be described rather as some sort of skipping than as smooth, bouncy running.

Prepared winter hiking trail/road

Switzerland (as well as, probably, the country in which you live) offers a wide range of winter hiking trails, all of which are regularly prepared by machines, similarly to ski slopes. The conditions on those trails are thus relatively consistent, the snow always being compact and firm. In some cases, however, the machine has left a loose top layer. As a result, your feet sink into the loose snow a little bit with every step and each time you push away for the next step the snow does not give you enough support. A solution to this problem is to take more and smaller steps.

Hard-packed forest trail/road

If the snow settles and no additional snowfall occurs the days after, many field and forest roads either turn sludgy or hard and uneven – depending on the temperature. Running on this kind of ground can be compared to running on a single trail in the forest interveined by roots, posing a real challenge to your feet, your legs and your core. Your feet do not meet even ground, whereby they don’t have a steady position, but must be actively stabilised with each step. As a consequnce, the risk of slipping or twisting your ankle increases.

What you need to consider when running on snowy ground: The most important points

  1. Get used to it: One needs to get used to running on snowy ground. Thus, you should take it slowly and you should only do shorter sessions to start with. Don’t begin with a marathon distance on hard-packed snow, otherwise sore muscles are guaranteed (especielly in your ankles).
  2. Adapt your running technique: Running on soft snow requires work form your muscles which is very different from the one on asfalt. Since your feet sink into the snow, you need to work for getting a steady position and not slipping. Your contact with the ground is thus much longer than on steady ground. You are forced to lower your pace and to spread your arms a little to stabilise. This constant stabilising and working for a steady position means a greater effort for your muscles. Other consequences of an unsteady position: lower pace and smaller steps. Tipp: Nordic running, that is, running with poles, is a good option during winter. The poles can be a great help in balancing your body and, at the same time, you can train your arms.
  3. Experience first: A run in the snow should, above all, be considered an adventure, a variation and an exercise for your coordination. You should not be too fixed on specific distances, paces or intervals if you run on snow. If you are preparing for a marathon it is better to conduct your specific preparations for that on roads free from snow. If you are a runner with high ambitions, we recommend you to do around 70% of your training on steady ground.
  4. Avoid overloads: If the conditions of snowy ground persist for a long time, try not to run too often and not only on snow, since, otherwise, overloads and other injuries may soon be the result (adductors, hamstrings, plantar fascia, calves, Achilles tendon). A lot of ambitious runners get injuries from running on snowy and icy ground during winter. Be aware of the risks of slipping or of twisting your ankle. Thus, try to plan your important sessions on flat and snow-free ground, or indoors.
  5. Snow “makes you slow”: In order to train the muscles used for running, they need the percussions. Otherwise, they cannot build the so-called contractive elements needed for fast running with short soil contact or for very long runs. In other words: if you train on soft ground too often, you are not training right with respect to pure running capacity. Of course, you train your overall stamina. But in terms of running in specific, you will probably rather get slower than faster.
  6. Right choice of shoes: If you run a lot on snow, you should think about the choice of your shoes. Of course, the type of snow plays a role. Running on a prepared winter hiking trail/road requires different shoes than running in powder snow does. An important precondition for a steady postion of your steps on snow is a very direct shoe with a flat, thin sole (the heels not being supported a lot more than your toes) with a good profile and maybe even with spikes. Furthermore, the shoe should offer a good grip for your heel and it should have a robust mantle. Normally, trailrunning shoes are a good choice.

 

This blog entry by Andreas Gonseth was provided by Fit for Life. Fit for Life is a Swiss magazine for fitness, running and endurance sports. Are you interested in reading such articles regularly? Click here. (This magazine is available only in German)

Running training in low temperatures

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Hello, Winter Wonderland! Or should we say, hello cold temperatures and frozen, icy roads? One thing is for sure: winter and running training aren’t mutually exclusive. However, it is worth noting certain points and you might have to make some adaptations in your training in some cases.   

We are going to show you how you can organise your training the best way possible in winter conditions, as a solid winter training makes you both physically and mentally strong for the next season.

Controlled breathing in very low temperatures

In winter, our muscous membranes are generally irritated, as we stay a lot inside in warm and, more importantly, dry air. This makes things easy for bacteria and viruses. This effect is reinforced by the cold air outside.

Generally, at low temperatures, breathing through your nose is recommended, possibly requiring a reduction in running pace. Breathing through your nose, the air is cleaned, heated up to body temperature and saturated with water vapour. If the intensity is too high for you to breath through your nose, a cloth covering your mouth works as well.

Never without warming up

No matter if it’s a base run, an high intensity training or a competition; a good warming up is important both for your lungs and your muscles. Thus, start slowly and take your time for your muscles to get warm. This is especially important for intervals, middle pace sessions and competitions. Deliberately plan more time for your warm-up.

Appropriate clothing

Generally, one should make sure not to put on too much clothing. The best way to do it is to follow the onion principle, also called the «three-layers-principle ». The first layer should be a tight functional shirt (moisture transfer), the second layer can be chosen depending on the given temperature, but should also consist of functional fibres, and the third layer serves as protection (water-repellent, wind stopper). Cap and gloves provide further warmth. It is important to always cover your achilles tendons during the cold time of the year. After training, put on a cap as soon as possible, in order to avoid unnecessary waste of energy.

A must during winter is to mind your own (and others’) safety in the dark: wear reflecting clothes, running vest and/or a head torch.

Ground surface

Running through new snow is, of cours, great fun. However, it is also more exhausting, which is why the intensity needs to be adjusted to the ground surface. Special caution is needed if the surface is slippery or frozen. Firstly, because of increased risk of falling and secondly, because of the great strains that the constant balancing and stabalising mean for your body. In this case, it is sensible to transfer the training to a treadmill.

Training duration and intensity

In very low temperatures, training durations should be reduced, training intensities should be decreased, or trainings should be conducted inside altogether. In our running.COACH training plan, this can be regulated/indicated by a minus sign. A good warm-up is especially important in the cold as well as starting slowely and building up speed progressively.

Alternative training or fitness centre

If it is cold or icy outside, it is sensible to conduct one or the other session in the water (swimming, aqua jogging), on cross-country skis or in snowshoes.

Nutrition

Even during winter, sufficient supply of liquid is important both before, during and after a session. Thus, after training especially, drink enough and refill your carbohydrate reserves with a high-energy snack, as you burn more calories in the cold.

Positive effects of winter training

  • It helps to resist the winter blues
  • It offers a lot of new possibilities for training
  • It burns additional calories, which helps to avoid the winter fat deposits
  • It gives your immune system an extra boost
  • It makes you mentally stronger

So, keep on running, brave the winter and get the maximum out of you for the next season!

Running Inspiration: Starting January energetically

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Most resolutions are abandoned after a while. This is why we want to give you some inspiration for the beginning of the year. We would like to present you our 10 tips to help you getting some energy for the new running year and which should improve your performance level and increase your joy of running. Because: running training involves a lot more than «just» running.

Flexibility 

It does not always look very elegant when runners stretch. Their muscles (thighs, bum) are often shortened and stretching becomes a struggle, which is why it is often avoided. Of course, this is not the right solution and it surely does not improve your flexibility.

Plan at least one fixed short stretching session after running (stretching and running) per week or do yoga regularly. You can even find inputs for stretching positions directly in our plan.

Strength training 

Of course, no runner wants to be blown up like a body builder, but strength, especially with one’s own body weight, does not do any harm. On the contrary: a stable posture reduces the risk of injury and can even make you faster.

One or two short strength sessions a week would be ideal and they can be done before or after training. You can find inputs for strength exercises directly in our plan.

Drills and ascending runs 

Even runners can work on their technique: there are countless running drills exercises, which can be done following a training. 3×3: three excercises repeated three times will do. You can finish off with three to five ascending runs (also referred to as coordination runs or hill sprints), meaning that you run a short distance (about 80-100m) either at a steadily increasing speed or at a generally higher speed, focusing escpescially on the running technique. Inputs for running drills can also be found directly in our plan.

Fascia training 

This needs some self conquest, as it is not particularly comfortable. But : Do regularly use a foam roll after training, in order to unblock the fasciae that stick together when running and in ordet to loosen your leg muscles. This will result in better performance in the end (loose legs – better performance).

Intervals 

If you want to become faster, you need to leave your comfort zone and vary the pace. Regular weekly interval trainings help to improve the speed. Bring some variation into your intervals: a training partner who runs at about the same speed can be very motivating. Intervals uphill set an additional strength stimulus, but you can also simply vary your step frequency.

Alternative Sports 

Have the courage to replace one running session a week by an alternative sport. This brings variation into your training and it sets new stimuli. For each sport our training plan offers a recommendation of how long a session should be.

Running pictures 

Capture your running moments in pictures from time to time. This will recall nice memories later on and it will show you what running actually makes possible.

Nutrition

Treat yourself with the suitable running food before and after training and don’t forget to drink enough. We will be providing you with specific inputs and recipes on this blog soon.

Contrast showering 

A simple recovery measure are contrast showers: shower your leg or even your whole body with cold and hot water alternately. This activates the blood circulation, thus recovery and the immune system. And remember: singing distracts you from the cold water.

Plan breaks and recovery 

Always remember that recovery is a part of your training just like running. Always take your time for recovery: For example, lie down for a while after a session, close your eyes and just free your mind. Include recovery measures in your training routines consciously (sauna visits, massages, specific nutrition etc.).

Don’t forget: Keep on running. We wish you a lot of interesting and beautiful running moments over the next months.