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    Managing Your Lifestyle & Running Load Home / Blog / Managing Your Lifestyle & Running Load


    The body’s aim is to remain balanced. The official term for this is allostasis: the ability we have to maintain stability through an ever changing environment. It is not just the external environment we need to consider, the nervous and hormonal system play an important role too. When you are healthy and the body is healthy, there are constant little adjustments to this system. When there has been long term exposure to heightened or varying neural and hormonal responses, such as emotional stress from work or physical stress from training for a marathon, your body has to work harder to balance its systems. 


    It’s for this reason why it’s important to consider injuries as multifactorial. It can be easy to blame one element of the process, e.g. the new shoes that aggravated your achilles after a run. To properly address the current issues, as well as working towards preventing other injuries, it’s important to address all relevant factors – Eg considering the fact you hadn’t been sleeping well due to an upcoming deadline. This is important to consider when working with people who participate and compete in long distance sports such as running. 


    Running requires consistent training that will build and taper before a race, with rest days after. The ongoing nature of the sport is why it’s important to consider lifestyle factors when dealing with injuries. From running a 5 km Park run every week, to a marathon a year, if you are having late nights with lots of alcohol before a long run, it can cause you to be more prone to injury.

    “Managing the load of life is just as important as following a structured training plan.”

    From a training perspective it can be quite easy to manage the load of training – keeping track of your runs is key. Using an app like Strava makes it easy, but a pen and paper works just as well. It’s important to keep track of both distance or time spent running over a week. If you increase the amount you are running too quickly, it can be difficult for the structures of your body to keep up and you run the risk of injury. Pace is important to consider as well; you aren’t used to speed sessions and attempting a workout that isn’t appropriate there is a chance you can irritate your tendons. Tendons are responsible for energy transfer from your muscles to your bones, and are very important when going fast and changing pace. They also require patience to treat, so you want to keep these guys happy! The general rule of thumb is a 10% increase each week and only changing one factor a week, distance, pace or terrain. 


    As a part of this training plan, you also track lifestyle factors to help understand the complete picture. Start by tracking the quality of your runs out of ten, did the run feel easy or was it hard work? This is known as rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and studies have demonstrated the RPE can be just as effective as heart rate data for monitoring training load. From here you can assess how your life might be impacting the quality of your runs and be impacting the ability of your body to recover and perform the next day. Tracking sleep is an easy start, especially if you are an early morning runner, keeping a consistent sleep pattern makes those early starts much easier. 


    Other activities and sports are also important to keep track of. If you back-up a run with a dog walk or playing with the kids this can also be extra load on your body and extra time spent on your legs. These things can often not be avoided, and nor should they be, it is just a factor that needs to be monitored and adjusted for.  


    At the end of the day, monitoring and being aware of how your lifestyle and training are working with each other is one of the simplest ways to stay injury free. If you are aware of how your life can affect your training there will be a decreased chance of you getting injured and you can spend more time running.  


    – Written by Dr Chelsey Kedmenec (Registered Osteopath)

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