It occurred to me Adam, my running trainer, tells me some pretty useful things while I’m training. Of course he’s a sports rehab lecturer, he’s trained professional footballers for a living and so he talks pretty technical sometimes.
Fortunately a lot of my job involves taking really techie, jargon-packed language and moulding it into words everyone can understand.
So I’m going to pass on some of his advice, telling it like I can get it.
Why you shouldn’t run every day
I was telling Adam today how I’d run four miles on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, to ‘toughen up’. I don’t normally run every day but I thought I should think about upping my sessions and that would mean running on consecutive days. I should try to get used to it.
Adam asked me how the second run had gone. I said I was slower, although only by 20s, but the effort felt greater. I had felt like I should have been faster, I was really trying hard, and I was disappointed to be slower. ‘Hmm,’ he said. ‘So your perceived effort was greater than your results?’ Then he explained to my why back to back running isn’t such a bright idea.
Controversial. I know. Lots of people do. But the things about running; it is repetitive movement, really repetitive. And that means you’re at a very real risk of injury as you repeat the same movements over and over again.
Now if you’re not bothered about getting injured fair enough. But I’m a wimp. I hate niggling injuries that stab at you when you’ve just about forgotten about them. I am sick of my ITB issue and the stiffness round my left hip irks me greatly. I want to be out running and having fun, not wincing when my body wants to remind me it’s not happy. This advice is good for me. Maybe you too.
The reason why you shouldn’t run every day is this: when you run, the activity creates tears in your muscles. Just a bit, but the fibres get torn with the effort and are therefore looking to rebuild. What your body needs is time to mend. Time without more activity. If you run the day after, instead of taking time to mend yourself, then your body will have mended the muscle a little, but not as much as it needs to to build stronger, larger muscle. Then it gets torn again and weakened again. Yes, it does rebuild, but not to where it should do.
Keep that up and you have a slow but steady decline in your muscle’s strength and its strength to do the work you are asking of it. Sooner or later – injury. Being out for a week or more is not going to help my training.
Maybe if you’re an elite or professional athlete it’s worth it, but I’ve got my sights set on the Manchester 10k and finishing in an hour – I am not Paula Radcliffe!