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Devlin Eyden

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One of the most common running injuries we get asked about is shin splints and how to get rid of them…

A common misconception about shin splints is that they are an actual condition of the shin bone or tibia.

Shin splints describe the pain felt along the front of your lower leg, at the shin bone. The pain concentrates in your lower leg between your knee and ankle.

The pain can be caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue. 

Let’s have a look at what shin splints are in a bit more detail, but more importantly, what is the best way to avoid getting them?

Shin Splints

As we already mentioned, a common misconception about shin splints is that they are an actual condition of the shin bone or tibia.

That is not true. 

Shin splints are normally caused by one of the muscles that are running down the tibia. Typically it is the medial or inside of the shin that normally hurts.

The connective tissues between the muscle and the shin become inflamed and it starts to pull away from the shin, causing shin pain. 

That is really the pain that you are feeling. 

(Side note: extreme levels of pressure and tightness may actually indicate compartment syndrome)

There is, therefore, pressure running through the tibia…

If we don’t treat it and you keep running through the pain, shin splints will ultimately turn into a pre-stress fracture (which is a little bit of bony oedema and bleeding on the actual bone).

Ultimately, if you continue running shin splints, it could turn into a stress fracture of the tibia.

Shin splints are an extremely common novice runner’s injury.

This is because as human beings we are always driven to succeed, improve, go faster, get better and run longer.

Often this is what happens as we always build up too quickly, and we then typically get shin splints.

There are a few other main causes of shin splints…

What Are Shin Splints Caused By?

The most common causes of shin splints:

  • Doing too much too soon.
  • Running in the incorrect running shoes.
  • Not having a body that is adapted for exercise.
  • Stress reactions to bone fractures.

How To Tell If You Are At Risk Of Getting Shin Splints?

There are a few risk factors to consider that give you a higher chance of getting shin splints…

  • Not having a body that is adapted for exercise, such as flat foot syndrome.
  • muscle weakness in your thighs or buttocks
  • Lack of mobility
  • Running on a slanted surface or uneven terrain
  • Running on hard surfaces
  • Using worn-out shoes

Let’s chat a bit about the recovery process…

How long do shin splints take to heal?

There’s no way to say exactly when you will be fully recovered from your shin splints…

It really depends on what caused them. People also heal at different rates. 

When you feel that you are recovered, you should make sure to properly warm up (LINK) and, you should do so gradually over a few weeks. 

Try to start out running on soft, level ground, and wear the correct shoes.

Don’t Ignore The Pain From Shin Splints

A major issue with shin splints is people tend to ignore the pain.

Pain is a signal from your body telling you something isn’t right…

Runners think it will get better as they get a little bit fitter but that is generally not the case. This is why people often end up with quite a serious case of shin splints.

The good news is, that even if it is serious, it shouldn’t take more than two weeks to deal with the actual pain.

How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints

To heal shin splints from the acute phase can take anywhere in the region of 48 hours to two weeks, depending on how far you pushed yourself into the pain.

  • The first thing you need to do is rest.

I know, it’s the last thing a runner wants to hear…

…but continuing to run is just going to make the shin splints worse.

You can also take an anti-inflammatory if needed to help speed up recovery, but this is not a long-term solution and should be recommended by a doctor.

  • The second thing you need to do is run an ice pack over the affected shins for 20 minutes three times a day.

This will also help settle the inflammation.

Exercises like toe raise and forward & lateral band walks, for example, are perfect.

  • And then lastly, grab a foam roller and foam roll your legs. 

In summary…

What you can do right now to heal shin splints fast:

  • Rest (Take an anti-inflammatory, if needed, to settle the inflammation)
  • Run an ice pack over the affected area 3 times a day for 20 minutes
  • Strength training twice a week
  • Foam rolling daily

So avoiding shin splints altogether would be the best-case scenario, but how do you not get shin splints?

How to prevent shin splints in the first place

  1. Get Proper Running Shoes

When people start running they very seldom start off in the right pair of running shoes.

They decide they want to start running to get fit and improve the quality of their life or to run a marathon. 

Whatever the reason is, they go into their closet and pull out whatever shoes they’ve got in there.

Their excitement and exuberance to get started, plus very often incorrect footwear is a lethal combination when it comes to shin splints.

How To Choose The Correct SIZE Running Shoe For YOU: 3 Simple Hacks To Get The Perfect Fit 

  1. Strength & Conditioning Training To Get Rid of Shin Splints

Here are some of the things you can do from a strength and conditioning perspective to prevent and treat shin splints as a runner…

Strength and conditioning won’t directly help with your shin splints…

Essentially, shin splints are mostly caused by an overload issue and by an imbalance between your anterior and posterior compartments between your lower limbs…

The strength work that you should be looking at…

There is a muscle in the front of the shin called the tibialis anterior, this muscle is the one people tend to worry about because it gets very tight and starts to spasm. This muscle is not there for shock absorption… 

So when people ask if you can do strength training for shin splints… the answer is yes, but to strengthen that muscle, which is responsible for bringing your toes up (dorsiflexion). 

So really, if you’re strengthening that muscle, all you’re doing is improving your dorsiflexion not preventing shin splints. 

What we recommend is strengthening your pelvic stability, hip girdle, glutes, and definitely your inner thigh muscles. 

It’s important for people to know that if you are experiencing shin splints, it may not be an issue directly connected to your shins but rather in that chain like your hips, knees, or even shoes. 

You can download our free strength program: HERE

  1. Build up really slowly

Follow a structured running training plan that will give your body time to adapt to the increased training…

If during your slow build-up, the pain returns, I would then suggest that you go see a physiotherapist.

Couple that with seeing a biokineticist because there is most probably a good chance then that you have an imbalance between your anterior and posterior compartments as we call it.

Effectively what that means is: The muscles on the front of your leg are stronger or weaker than the muscles on the back of your leg.

As a result… there is strain being placed on those anterior muscles causing them to get inflamed.

When To See a Doctor

If your pain has not been relieved by rest, ice, anti-inflammatory tablets, or foam rolling, then it is a good idea to make an appointment and your orthopedist or GP as they will be able to diagnose the exact source of your pain and recommend a treatment plan.

Strong female runner

Join us for a free live online presentation of the…

The Running Through Menopause Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Wednesday 25 May 2022

11am Los Angeles | 2pm New York | 7pm London

A lot of people don’t know that the term “Runners Knee” is a broad term used to describe the pain you feel if you have one of several knee problems. 

You might have heard a doctor call it Patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome can be better understood as…

Pain around the front of the knee (patella). This is where the knee connects with the lower end of the thigh bone (femur).

Let’s have a deeper look into Patellofemoral pain or… more commonly known as runner’s knee…

What Is Runners Knee?

Most of the big five fall into the overuse category, but like shin splints, runners knee or patella-femoral knee pain, in particular, does come down to people building up too quickly.

We have got four muscles that make up our quadriceps, (quad meaning four).  

You’ve got a little guy called the Vastus Medialis oblique which is primarily responsible for stabilizing your patella. 

Then you’ve got some pretty big muscles too…

The point is when you’ve been inactive for some time your proprioception or the body’s ability to adjust itself to protect the joints is one of the things that becomes the most compromised. 

Those big quad muscles will stay quite big and they will work quite well but your Vastus Medialis oblique is probably not going to work so well. 

This results in some misalignment with your patella tracking. Particularly If you build up too quickly and you don’t give your body a chance for that Vastus Medialis oblique to start activating as it should and to start getting a little bit stronger… in a nutshell, it will lead to problems such as pain, particularly in and around your knee cap.

Similarly, if you have some biomechanical issues you may pick up Runner’s knee…

Your quadriceps run into your patella tendon and your quadriceps tendon runs over and around the patella and becomes the patella tendon that joins the leg on the tibia or below the knee. 

If you have some imbalances or problems with biomechanics in particular then you can get that pulling on the patella at an angle and that can also cause you some patella-femoral pain or some irritation of the knee cap.

It may seem obvious but if you are going to start running in squash shoes or in the shoes you had in high school, you are going to run into problems. 

Often when people who have been running for years develop Runners knee or patella-femoral knee pain it is very often in response to their shoes.

This Is How To Tell You Need New Running Shoes

The knee is one of those joints that really needs to work in one plane. 

Your knee joint opens and closes, which is pretty much what it does. Where you have other joints like your ankle or your hip and they’re a little more forgiving because they move in multiple directions…

So if imbalance creeps in or if there is another injury and you come back from that injury but it has caused some change or shift in your running gait and you finally find yourself in a position where you are landing on the ground and your knee is no longer able to move in just that straight plain thereby causing a bit of stress on the knee….That could also potentially cause patella-femoral knee pain.

Symptoms Of Runners Knee

There are 3 main symptoms of Runner’s knee.

  1. Pain
  • Pain in/ around your kneecap that happens when you are exercising.
  • As well as pain after sitting for a long time with the knees bent. 
  1. Grinding Sounds
  • Rubbing, grinding, or clicking sound of the kneecap that you hear when you bend and straighten your knee.
  1. Tender Kneecap
  • If your Kneecap is tender to the touch.

How Is Runner’s Knee Diagnosed?

Healthcare providers can diagnose Runner’s knee by looking at your health history and by conducting a physical exam, possibly using an X-ray machine.

Let’s have a look at some of the main reasons why you could experience Runner’s knee…

Causes Of Runners Knee

  1. Overtraining
  2. An Imbalance
  3. Not Warming Up Correctly
  4. Knee Trauma

Overtraining

Long periods of overtraining can cause runner’s knee in even the most experienced athletes. This is why proper recovery is so important. 

By not recovering properly, and if you continue to follow your running program without strategically planning rest days, you are at risk of injuries like patellofemoral syndrome.

An Imbalance

Our knees sit between our ankles and hips, so if there is an imbalance or dysfunction in either our ankles or our hips… there is a higher chance that we will experience runners knee.

Not Warming Up Correctly

If you want to avoid getting injured as a runner, only running is not enough!

In the video below, we walk you through exactly what to do before every run that you do.

It only takes a few minutes but if you start doing this as part of your pre-run routine, you can save yourself a lot of time and heartache down the line because of training missed due to injuries

Knee Trauma

When an accident happens and it involves a direct impact on your kneecap… it can lead to inflammation and therefore Runner’s knee.

Now that we know the causes of Runner’s knee, the good news is that it is treatable!

How To Treat Runners Knee

Firstly and very importantly, rest. 

We then need to wake up that Vastus Medialis oblique and that is not a difficult thing to do…

It’s done in two ways:

Strength Exercises

This would involve 30-degree squats (or even less if there is a pain), a little pain-free range of motion such as single-leg squats, single-leg press-ups, and step-ups onto a very low step at first.

We’ll have a detailed look at strength training exercises for Runner’s knee in the next section.

Work On The Proprioception Simultaneously

The easiest way to do this is to stand on a thick carpet or rug, balance on one leg, and close your eyes. 

That will throw yourself completely out of kilter and all the muscles in your ankle, in your bum, and around the knee that are supposed to stabilize those joints will be forced to engage better because there will be an exaggeration of the movement.

As you repeat that over time, that loss of balance will get smaller and smaller as those proprioceptors do their job, your Vastus Medialis oblique will be doing its job better and your runner’s knee or patella-femoral knee pain shouldn’t be bothering you anymore.

As we mentioned above, our strength & conditioning expert Shona Hendricks talks about what strength training you can do to prevent Runner’s knee. 

Strength Training for Runner’s Knee

To prevent knee pain when running, download our free strength program here.

Being sidelined from a running injury is the last thing any runner wants. 

Based on this case study, more than 80% of running injuries are caused by repetitive stress and according to the same study, the knees, legs, and feet are the most common injury areas for runners. 

According to the case study, the location-specific incidence of running injuries is as follows:

  • Knees: 7.2% to 50%
  • Lower leg: 9.0% to 32.2%
  • Upper leg: 3.4% to 38.1%
  • Foot: 5.7% to 39.3%
  • Ankles: 3.9% to 16.6%
  • Hips, pelvis, or groin: 3.3% to 11.5%
  • Lower back: 5.3% to 19.1%

Now that we know that running injuries usually happen when you push yourself too hard, let’s have a look at our first common running injury of the series…

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome can be a real pain in the butt for runners! Literally…

Piriformis is a muscle in your glutes and hip structure, which plays a massive role in your walking gait and running gait. 

Piriformis syndrome is when that muscle becomes so tight that it compresses the sciatic nerve and creates a lot of pain.

Two main causes of Piriformis syndrome:

  1. Some people have anatomy where the sciatic nerve runs through the Piriformis and if the Piriformis gets irritated, then there will be a pain.
  1. Having tight, inflexible, immobile hips. Couple with the fact that we sit at our desks for most of the day with poor posture.

Why Do Runners Get Piriformis Syndrome?

Our glutes are so important in stabilizing the pelvis and also in creating the ‘hip drive’ every time we step. 

The Piriformis muscle (which is VERY little) has to work overtime. While it’s working constantly it’s getting tighter and tighter and if it’s weak it gets even tighter because it’s not able to contract correctly.

Now that we know what it is and how runners get Piriformis pain in the first place, let’s have a look at how we can alleviate the pain…

3 Key Stretches To Help Alleviate Piriformis Pain

  1. Spine Rotation

Lie down on your back and put your arms out at shoulder height on each side of you.
Keeping both shoulders flat on the floor, bring your knees into your chest.

Gently roll both knees down towards the floor on your left side and hold that stretch in the lower back and glute. Then do the same on the right side.

You can use one hand to help pull the legs down and then hold for a few seconds (20 to 30 seconds). If you feel the need to repeat this, you can for two or three times on each side. 

  1. Piriformis Stretch/ Glute Stretch

This stretch can be done either seated or standing.

Cross your right leg over your left leg knee and lean the body forwards slightly. You can even use one hand to push your right knee down a little. 

And do the same on the other side. (for 20 to 30 seconds)

None of this should be a balancing act as we are just trying to alleviate tension.

  1. Groin Adductor Stretch

Seat yourself on the floor and place your legs out wide in front of you, keeping your knees as straight as possible.

Next, lean your body forward, place your hands on the floor if it makes it easier. 

The goal is to keep your legs as straight as possible and just feel the groin stretching and hold for 20 to 30 seconds

So, we know that by doing those 3 stretches we can alleviate the pain from Piriformis syndrome… but how do we prevent it from coming back again?

Stopping Piriformis Syndrome From Coming Back

It’s important to have that muscle, not in a tight state but it’s even more important to STRENGTHEN that muscle.

The reason we need to strengthen that muscle is so that it doesn’t get weak and then in turn get tight again. 

You need to do specific glute strength work to strengthen the Piriformis muscle. 

Strength Exercises To Prevent Piriformis Syndrome:

  1. Lying on the floor clams… progressed to Clams with a band around the knees….progressed to Clams in a standing position.
  1. Band walks. Putting the band around your knees and doing a couple of lateral or forward and backward walks… progressed to putting the band around your ankles.

By strengthening our glutes we are helping our glutes hold out pelvis into a much more stable position every time you step and run. 

If you’d like to download a free strength plan that will help, you can by clicking here!

As runners, almost all of us have experienced this situation…

Last week I headed out for a lovely Sunday morning EASY 10km with my trusty pup at hand and a cheerful smile on my face… the sun was shining and I was feeling absolutely fantastic…

That is until… 4km in and all of a sudden I feel intense muscle cramps in my legs.

I stop and try to massage my calves as well as possible… but that doesn’t help, I try to walk it out and that doesn’t help either… 

On my walk home I was thinking to myself all the million-dollar questions…

Will breathing through my mouth as opposed to my nose help prevent cramps?

Should I run slower to prevent muscle cramps?

Will muscle cramp pills help me?

What about using salt to prevent muscle cramps?”

People mean well when giving advice about preventing muscle cramps but the truth is that not even experts can say with certainty what the cause of muscle cramps is.

We do not know EXACTLY what causes cramps… but let’s have a look at what we do know.

Muscle Cramps

Cramps are seldom caused by a lack of electrolytes and in cases where this is the case, it’s generally accompanied by nighttime cramping.

It’s important to note that while a shortage of electrolytes in extreme conditions can contribute to cramping, too high a concentration of electrolytes will have the same impact as too little.

There is only one mechanism for cramps: Cross Bridge fatigue.

Simply put, as we proceed with exercise, there is an association with fatigue, a gradual decay in the signaling that instructs the muscles to contract and relax.

As this process delays we get to a point where your agonist (calf) and antagonist (peroneal and/or anterior tibialis) contract at the same time, this leads to cramping.

The cause of this cross-bridge fatigue is most commonly from muscle fatigue and in less than 30% of cases from nutrition (low magnesium, calcium, and/or potassium).

Strength training is likely contributing to this fatigue in the shorter term but should assist in the longer term.

Let’s have a look at lactic acid and if it’s the reason you are cramping when you run…

Is Lactic Acid The Cause Of Muscle Cramps?

It seems like everyone has their own theories about lactic acid and how they prevent it…

Lactic acid is real, it is measured as blood lactate. Lactic acid is NOT the reason for workouts to end. In fact, blood lactate is cleared very quickly and is used by the body to produce energy.

Everyone needs to understand that lactic acid is an important part of our energy metabolism.

Let’s break down what lactic acid is exactly…

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a by-product of the system when your body is breaking down chemical bonds inside the muscle that provides the chemical energy for the body to do mechanical work.

Almost as soon as lactate is produced it is shuttled away by the blood very quickly to the liver where it is processed. 

A lot of people swear that cramping is caused by a build-up of lactic acid…

This is NOT necessarily true… 

It’s more likely that cramps are caused by other by-products of energy metabolism which do cause the acidity or PH of the muscles to drop and for acidosis to take place, which causes interference of muscle function.

The Role Of Lactic Acid

Lactic acid’s role in exercise is still not properly understood.

At least we’ve gotten to the point where we know that it definitely provides some of the chemical energy that we need to produce the mechanical energy of movement. 

What we do know is that massages on the side of the road do absolutely nothing to help you get to the finish line…  so how do we prevent these dreaded cramps??

How to Prevent Cramps

  1. Strength Training

Running is a compounding sport, it places that eccentric strain on your muscles.

Strength training helps build the structures around the joints and helps make the joints stronger, allowing your body to sustain the load from running so much better. 

Free Strength Training Program Here!

  1. Pace Yourself Correctly

If you train logging 10-minute miles and you start racing 8:45-minute miles, your muscles won’t be prepared for that effort, and you’ll place yourself at a higher risk of cramping.

  1. Warming Up & Cooling Down Correctly 

Lindsey, Shona, and Devlin walk you through exactly what to do before every run that you do.

It only takes a few minutes but if you start doing this as part of your pre-run routine, you can save yourself a lot of time and heartache down the line because of training missed due to injuries.

Let’s have a look at some common theories when it comes to preventing cramps while running…

Does Salt Prevent Cramps? 

We’ve seen it at races… People taking literal handfuls of salt and shoving it into their mouths… the question is… Does it help?

As we established above, there are a few people who suffer from cramping because of an electrolyte imbalance but that is not the main cause of cramping. Having salt to prevent leg cramps does help those specific people.

If you have very low stores of sodium then it can lead to cramping, although things like magnesium and calcium shortages are probably worse than having sodium shortage.

The reason why people shouldn’t take a blanket approach and just start taking salt tablets is that TOO MUCH SODIUM CAN ALSO LEAD TO CRAMPING.

So, in very long, ultra distances and multi-day races it is important to do some sodium replacement. 

For most people cramping is caused by fatigue, there is a delay in the signaling (due to fatigue) in telling muscles when to relax and contract. 

Eg. Your quads and hamstrings. When your quads are relaxed your hamstrings should contract and vice versa.

Watch this video to see when having salt is handy during race time.

Do Potato Chips Prevent Leg Cramps While Running?

Potato chips can prevent leg cramps because they contain potassium and sodium – two important electrolytes that help your muscles to contract, relax and function smoothly.

However, these nutrients can be found in many different foods, so eating a balanced diet, in general, will also help in preventing muscle cramps.

Potato chips contain potassium and sodium (salt) which are both important electrolytes that help muscles to function properly. 

Potassium aids in electrical impulse generation, so if you’re not getting enough of it, your muscles are more susceptible to cramping.  

It’s important to note that if you suffer from leg cramps, it’s difficult to say which food group you should be eating more of or what supplements you should take if your diet does not allow for all food groups because it’s different for everyone. 

You need to analyze your diet and see which food group you may be neglecting. It’s all about trial and error so find what works for you and stick to it.

When potassium is mentioned the first thing to pop into most people’s minds is BANANAS…

Do Bananas Prevent Leg Cramps While Running?

If you are susceptible to cramping, chances are that you’ve heard the notion that bananas can help to prevent or relieve leg cramps.

Bananas do help prevent leg cramps (to a certain extent). They are rich in several important nutrients including potassium and magnesium. These nutrients play a crucial role in the way our muscles function, so getting enough of them is vital for our muscles to work normally.

That being said, there is no scientific evidence to prove that bananas alone prevent your legs from cramping when you run.

If you’re suffering from tight calves you’ve going to LOVE this guide: Get Rid Of Tight Calves FOREVER – The Ultimate Guide

If you’re like most runners, the chances are probably quite high that you’re on the lookout for ways to keep improving your running… right?

Most people jump to the conclusion that to improve, they need to run longer sessions, longer distances, and do more of everything…

As we discovered in our previous article, getting a good night’s sleep can make a world of a difference to your running. 

This showed us that the easiest improvements can come from the places you don’t expect, in this case… the pool!

Cross-training, in particular, swimming is a great way to work different muscles in the body that one normally wouldn’t. Cross-training allows more training without eccentric contractions while reducing eccentric load, meaning less cost on the body

When we run, we hit the ground quite hard, which results in a lengthening of the muscle, which is essentially protecting our joints. (Eccentric muscle contraction)

So how does swimming positively affect your running? 

Swimming & Active Recovery

Running is incredible! That’s why it’s one of the most loved and most popular sports. 

Running is one of the best aerobic exercises out there, it is also one of the most intense exercises. That’s why recovery is SO SO important. 

According to this study, active recovery is an effective strategy for reducing overall fatigue from muscles worked during exercise.

Active recovery means spending your recovery or cross-training days doing some low-intensity exercises that can help you to:  

  • Get more blood flowing to your tired muscles
  • Bring much-needed nutrients to the muscles that need repair  
  • Clear out metabolic waste from the muscles you use when running.

What does this all have to do with swimming? 

Swimming is relatively low in intensity, but it is easy to increase the intensity depending on your workout goal of the session. 

According to this study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, just 12 sessions of swimming with controlled breathing can lead to a 6% boost in the running economy.   

Incredible right?!

The reason for this is that when you swim, you breathe less often compared to when you’re running.  Your body uses oxygen more effectively, by swimming and building up this new oxygen efficiency, you’ll be able to bring the efficiency to your running… by including swimming in your training, you allow your muscles to get more out of every breath when you are running.

The Benefits Of Swimming

We always recommend cross-training, the reason for this is that it helps with endurance, speed, and recovery.

The amazing thing about including swimming in your training is that you tick off all 3 reasons above… in one activity.  

Swimming is low impact and increases your cardiovascular fitness, contributing to improved speed and power. The endurance you build up whilst swimming translates directly to your running.  

Let’s cover the benefits of swimming for runners…

Benefits Of Swimming For Runners 

  • Works every muscle in the body, in a greater range of motion compared to other sports.
  • Strengthens the ankles.
  • Improves flexibility and mobility.
  • Increases lung capacity, with minimal stress on the body so that you can improve your running without even running.
  • Builds muscle and strengthens different muscles that are not used in running.
  • Helps the body recover as the movement and cold water facilitate blood flow.

We all know that cross-training is one of the best ways to get a well-rounded workout.
But.
what you might not have known is that adding swimming to your training mix can make you a faster runner.

Can Swimming Help You Run Faster?

Yes! Swimming can help you run faster.

According to a study that was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. 

Runners who added a small amount of swimming onto their usual running training (an extra 10% of their usual running added as swimming) were able to shave more than 13 seconds off their times for a 3.2km run.

By adding swimming into your training you are essentially improving your running speed by:

  • Reducing common running injuries.
  • Improving your cardiovascular performance.
  • Strengthening your legs.
  • Speeding up your recovery.

Now that we know the good news… that to get faster, you don’t necessarily have to run more miles. 

By supplementing some running with other activities you’re able to take your running to another level without risking injury.

Let’s have a look at how we can include swimming into our training….

How Runners Should Be Training In The Pool

To include some cross-training, in this case, swimming into your training routine, try swapping out a morning of recovery or a short morning jog for some time in the pool.

  1. Pulls

Warm-up: Swim 400 meters at an easy pace.

Main set: Complete 6 x 200 pull builds. Increase your speed every 25 meters. Start slow and finish with a sprint.

Cooldown: Swim 400 meters without the buoy at a recovery pace.

A good way to let your legs recover is to use a pull buoy on your main swim sets. It will allow your legs to recover and make your upper body do most of the work. 

  1. Kicks

Warm-up: Swim 200 to 400 meters easily.

Main set: Complete five sets of the following interval: 50 meters easy, 100 meters fast kick, 50 meters easy, 100 meters fast swim, followed by 15 to 20 seconds of rest. Repeat.

Cooldown: Swim 200 to 400 meters at a recovery pace.

The kicks in swimming work to strengthen the hip flexors, IT band, and hamstrings without adding the pounding you would get on the road.

  1. Lung Strengthener

Warm-up: Swim 200 to 400 meters at an easy pace.

Main set: Complete 12 x 100 meters. For the first 25 meters, take a breath every three strokes. 

From 25 to 50 meters, take a breath every five strokes, and from 50 to 75 meters, take a breath only every seven strokes. 

Cooldown: Swim 100 to 200 meters easily.

NB. You mustn’t hold your breath during this exercise, you need to control your breath so that when your face is in the water you exhale slowly and when your face is out of the water you take a controlled breath in.

If you’re looking for science-based training plans that actually work check out the Coach Parry Training Club: Here

During that crazy time in all of our lives, where we were working from home, gyms were closed and we were not allowed to see family members. Health experts encouraged solo outside exercise for physical and psychological well-being and a lot of people found their escape by running.

Whatever your reason for hitting the trails, pavement, or track is, by following a few simple tips and guidelines, you’ll be able to stay motivated, injury-free, and safe while becoming a faster, fitter, and stronger runner. 

Firstly, let’s cover the basics…

Types Of Running

There are 7 main types of running, they all help to achieve different objectives.

7 Different Types Of Running:

  1. Base Runs

When you run a base run, you run at your natural pace for a length of time that doesn’t push or challenge you, this type of run is great for building endurance. 

  1. Fartlek Runs

Fartlek (Swedish for “speed play”) runs, this type of run includes interval training with a long-distance goal. 

You would run at a fast pace for part of the run but intersperse slower speeds for short amounts of time. 

  1. Interval Runs

Intervals or speed workouts are done to increase aerobic capacity.

While doing interval training you would alter between running at a fast pace and then at a slower pace.

  1. Long Runs

By doing long runs you will be able to acclimate your body to exertion over increasingly longer periods. 

This Is Why You Need To Include Long Runs In Your Training: Click Here

  1. Recovery Runs

These are easy runs at a shorter distance or slower pace than usual. These are run to help your body be capable of peak performance on race day.

Recovery runs are very important for several reasons. 

  1. Tempo Runs

Longer than interval distances but shorter than long runs. Tempo runs are generally up to 10 miles long and executed at a challenging but sustainable running pace that will closely align with your projected race pace.

  1. Track Runs

It’s normally elite runners that like to perform speed intervals on track surfaces, finding that the springier surface works well for repetitive speed drills.

It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to running or jumping back into it after a long break. 

The most important thing to remember is to take it slow and start EASY. 

Here are some tips to take into consideration that will make a HUGE difference to your running.

Expert Tips For Beginner Runners

  1. Begin slowly.
  2. Nutrition is key.
  3. Follow a walk/run method.
  4. Stick to your strategy.
  5. Recovery is also key.
  6. Strength training.

Begin Slowly

Now that you’re starting to run, your body will need to get comfortable with the new load that comes with running on your joints. 

The slower you start the higher your chances are of avoiding overexertion, pain, and injuries. The easier you run, where you can easily hold a conversation, the faster you will build up endurance and start to see improvements.

It sounds counterintuitive but Coach Lindsey Parry reveals in this video why you should slow down if you want to speed up and run faster.

Nutrition is key

Immediately after a run, it’s important to refuel your body with protein and carbohydrates to restore your glycogen and repair the muscles. 

The first four hours after exercise is a crucial time for taking on new glycogen to replace what you’ve lost while working hard.

Within 30 minutes after your training, you should consume the correct sugars and protein. As we get older this becomes even more important. You should also drink enough as keeping hydrated will also contribute to speeding up your recovery time. 

In a nutshell, during exercise, we have what are called gated channels. These are channels through which the body takes sugar out of the blood, through the membranes, and then pushes them into the muscles where they are needed most. 

The gated channels are very sensitive during exercise, but they close down and draw that sugar into the muscles much slower once you get out of the 30-minute window.

So, essentially, every 15 minutes, our body’s ability to replace the muscle glycogen, in particular, decreases by roughly a multiplier of 50. (50% less efficient as we go). Therefore 45 to 60 minutes after our exercise it becomes difficult for our bodies to reload that muscle glycogen.

Follow a Walk/Run Method

At Coach Parry, we are huge fans of the run/walk strategy.

The run/walk strategy should be done often enough until you are comfortable enough in what you are doing. 

It’s not something that you need to do in every single session, a good time to implement this strategy would be on one of your long runs.

The important thing about the run/walk strategy is not how much running you do vs how much walking but more about settling on a routine that you are comfortable with and that you can implement from the get-go.

We recommend 1 to 2 minutes of brisk walking every 3 to 6 kilometers, and then of course you need to factor in a bit of extra walking on the hills.

It’s SUPER good to implement the run/walk strategy on long or very steep hills. (e.g Run 1 min, walk 1 min) 

The point of the walks is to keep you feeling fresh and your legs feeling strong for as long as possible so that your average speed improves over the long term. 

Find out how to implement the run/walk strategy here.

Stick To Your Program

Yes, we understand life is busy and days tend to get away from you…

Lack of consistency impacts improvements over time. 

A great way to think of consistency is as if it were a financial investment.
The small little bits over time lead to big amounts and that’s the same thing as fitness. 

You should aim to stick to your training plan as well as possible.

Do this by following a customizable training plan like the ones we have at Coach Parry.

Recovery Is Also Key

When you run, you aren’t just building your stamina and strength; you’re also breaking your body down, causing a tiny amount of tissue damage with every step.

Allowing yourself time to recover after your runs is what makes it possible for you to come back better adapted for your next run. 

We can’t stress the importance of recovery enough. It is as important as your training. 

Without recovery, you won’t reach your full running potential. On top of that, by not recovering you increase your chances of getting sick and injured. 

A practical guide to running recovery here.

Strength Training

Strength training helps keep you injury-free.

Running is a compounding sport, it places eccentric strain on your muscles.

Strength training helps build the structures around the joints and helps make the joints stronger, allowing your body to sustain the load from running so much better. 

Strength training has massive effects on your running performance.

You will improve your running performance by not even running at all. Ideally, you should be doing resistance training once or twice a week, as this is when you will reap the most benefits in your running. 

FREE Strength Training Program Here!

The team at Coach Parry has a lot of experience behind them…better than that, put together the Coach Parry community has even more experience, that’s why we asked them what they wished they had known when they started running…

What We Wish We Knew When We Started Running

The magic happens when you sleep.

The reason why the magic happens in your sleep is that it is the time when your body is working the hardest at regenerating.

This happens because humans were designed to be diurnal, which means that we sleep when it’s dark and be awake when it’s daylight. 

Our hormonal responses are triggered by the changing of the light. Certain processes need to take place at certain times for us to get the best adaptation (recovery) while we are sleeping. 

When you get into bed is the most important. If you get into bed after 10 pm then there will be a reduction in the peak release of hormones(Human Growth Hormone & Testosterone) while we are sleeping. 

The importance of getting the right running shoes.

This is an important factor considering that you are running in them for hours. 

When buying running shoes, a key thing to look out for is that the shoes fit you correctly, it is going to be a personal preference, no brand is better than another… it comes down to what works best for you.

You should try to test different models of shoes to see what fits right and to see what’s recommended.

We strongly advise going to a specialist retail store, where they can talk you through different shoes.

Something to look out for when purchasing your running shoes is the actual fit. There needs to be a little bit of space in front of the big toe, the shoe must not be too constricting around the bridge or top of your shoe. 

Something else to look out for is the right kind of shoe in terms of pronation and anti pronation shoes. 

A lot of running stores might get you to walk up and down and have a look at your feet and give you a pair of anti pronation shoes.

Pro Tip: For about 90% of people, maybe even more, you can get away with a neutral shoe. It is only in extreme cases that we would recommend you get anti pronation shoes. 

Following a structured training plan would give me the results I wanted, rather than what I thought I knew.

Following a structured training program is the KEY to doing things the correct way.

The reason for this is that when you have a structured training plan, it has been scientifically thought out and built up progressively, it takes into account the right amount of rest & intensities that you need. 

If you don’t follow a structured plan then you land up doing the things that you like to do and not the things that you don’t like to do and you probably won’t get enough rest. 

Following a training plan takes the guesswork out of it for you as the runner. 

The older you get, the more important recovery becomes.

This wish applies to everybody. 

The MAGIC happens while we recover, not while we exercise.

As you get older you consistently lose strength, that’s why recovery becomes even more important. So as a result you end up working harder, which means that you will require a longer recovery time.

You don’t have to race every time you run.

A lot of runners believe that you need to be half-dead after every session for that session to be worth it. This is NOT the case. 

Only 20% of your overall volume of training needs to be done ‘hard’.

When you constantly run hard you increase your chances of overtraining and causing injury.

Vaseline is not optional. 

This one is so true… although funny, Vaseline is necessary!

Experiencing chafing during a run can be extremely uncomfortable.

There are tons of products out there, Vaseline being one, that can be applied to areas where chafe is common like between your thighs, under your armpits, and where your heart rate monitor goes.

We touched a bit on why following a training program is necessary to remain consistent and to improve your running performance safely without injury.

Let’s have a look at what and what shouldn’t be included in your training plan…

Check it out in the video here!

How ridiculously incredible would it be if there was this brand new magical formula that could build muscle, repair tissue, boost HGH (Human Growth Hormone), improve your concentration, and make running feel a lot easier…

We would all be handing our money over to the suppliers ASAP!

Well…

We’ve got something to tell you…

When we lay our heads down on our comfy pillows and head off into dreamland for 8 hours or so… our bodies are already doing all those things, and more. 

Sleep is one of the non-negotiable pillars of recovery, training, and ensuring you get to the next workout feeling good.

Improving this one part of your life can make the world of a difference.

The Power Of Sleep

In our modern lifestyles, sleep is actually quite hard to come by. The number of hours of sleep but more importantly the quality of sleep that we have is particularly poor. 

We encourage you to make a few small changes that will go a long way in positively impacting your recovery.

If we were to say that everyone should be getting 10 hours of sleep a day… You’re probably already beginning to laugh and will most likely stop reading on… because in your busy life… Where on earth are you going to find 10 hours to sleep per day?!

So, let’s rather look at how long we manage to sleep.

The Difference Sleep Will Make To Your Recovery

When you’re training for a specific event, (particularly in the 6-8 weeks of peak training) try and prioritize sleep and try to get 30 to 60 minutes more than you would normally get. 

That little bit of extra sleep will make a big difference to your recovery, however, what will make even more of a difference is when you go to sleep and how you prepare your sleep environment.

We have worked with several professional runners and there are 8 things that they do consistently that most amateur runners don’t do… Including getting as much sleep as possible…

Check it out here!

Let’s dive right into how you should be preparing your sleep environment and when you should be hitting the hay…

How To Improve The Quality Of Your Sleep

The earlier you go to bed, the better. 

We understand that for a lot of people this is a really difficult thing to do, so we are not saying that you should be getting into bed at 8 p.m., however… you need to understand that the later you get to sleep after 10 o’clock, the more compromised your hormonal release becomes.

It’s the release of hormones while you are sleeping that primes the body for recovery. 

After 10 o’clock, we start to eat into the hormonal release and it becomes more and more stunted.

If you climb into bed regularly after midnight then you are SERIOUSLY compromising your body’s ability to release growth hormone – Testosterone and therefore to enable you to recover much better. 

Ensure that you have a good quality sleep. 

This can be done by keeping a hygienic sleeping environment. 

A Hygenic Sleeping Environment:

  • Needs to be dark. The darker the room, the better quality of sleep you will have.
  • Needs to be cool. We sleep really well in a cool environment..
  • No flickering lights. There should be no cellphone beeping lights or TV lights

Have a good run-up to your sleep time.

At about 30 to 45 minutes before you plan to go to sleep, try to limit the amount of time you spend on blue lights. 

Instead, let your mind quieten down and opt for reading a book. 

Blue light devices include: 

  • Tv’s
  • Cell Phones
  • Laptops
  • Tablets

How Much Sleep Do Runners Need?

When we talk about elite athletes, it’s often joked about that they aren’t paid to train but they are paid to rest. 

This is exactly a key factor in getting your training and recovery right!

If you look at an elite athlete’s regime… they take naps during the day, they sleep long hours at night, and they often don’t train early mornings because they’re sleeping in. 

As we mentioned earlier, the above situation is not practical for the amateur athlete who works a full-time job, and who doesn’t get paid to train. 

You need to prioritize getting as much sleep as you can, as consistently as possible. 

Life is hectic and we do completely understand that. 

Avoid inconsistency by getting one night of 8 hours of sleep a week, 2 nights 6 hours, and the rest of the week, getting 5 hours… Rather try to get as much as possible as consistently as possible. 

The Benefits Of Getting A Good Nights Sleep

  1. Build Muscle & Repair Tissue

When you sleep deeply HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is released.

HGH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland and released into the bloodstream. HGH aids in repairing tissue, building muscle, strengthening bones, and converting fat to fuel. 

Therefore, less sleep results in lower HGH levels, impacting the speed that you’ll recover from your runs. 

In this article, we explain how your body has to adapt to get stronger…

When you run, you aren’t just building your stamina and strength; you’re also breaking your body down, causing a tiny amount of tissue damage with every step.

So, allowing yourself time to recover after your runs is what makes it possible for you to come back better adapted for your next run.

  1. Athletic Performance

Getting enough sleep is crucial for athletic performance.

Studies show that a night of good sleep can improve speed, accuracy, and reaction time in athletes.

As you know, carbohydrates help provide a ready source of energy for the body – when carbs are broken down by the body, the component sugars are stored in the muscles as glycogen, (waiting to be used up during the race).

Not getting enough sleep will weaken the body’s ability to store those carbohydrates, which means less glycogen will be stored.

In this video Lindsey and Brad talk about the role of sleep in your recovery as a runner.

Click Here!

  1. Hormonal Balance

By not getting enough sleep, your body produces less HGH and produces more Cortisol (normally released during times of stress). Both of these effects make it very hard for your body to recover properly.

Ghrelin hormone: Famously known as the “hunger hormone” because of its stimulatory effects on food intake, fat deposition, and growth hormone release.

Leptin hormone: Regulates energy balance, suppressing food intake and thereby inducing weight loss.

When we don’t get enough sleep, we have an increase in Ghrelin and a decrease in Leptin. This results in us eating more, even if we don’t need to because we don’t have a strong signal to stop.

  1. Water Reabsorption

Drinking water is essential. H2O accounts for up to 60% of the human body, and it helps with a wide variety of bodily functions, like cell growth, waste removal, and digestion.

One of the ways getting a good night’s sleep can benefit your running is…water reabsorption. When you sleep, your kidney balances water, sodium, and other electrolytes. Without enough water, the kidneys can’t balance electrolytes properly.

This study was published in February 2019. 

In the study, a group of more than 20,000 American and Chinese adults showed that those who self-reported sleeping less than six hours on average each night were associated with a higher likelihood of inadequate hydration status, compared with those sleeping eight hours or longer each night. 

  1. Concentration

The right amount of sleep affects your concentration.

According to Harvard Health publishing, when people don’t get enough sleep, their attention and concentration abilities decline. Their reaction time lengthens, they’re inattentive, and they don’t respond as well to environmental signals.

Runners need to be able to tune in and strategize the rest of the race or the run and they also need to be able to concentrate to give that last “big push” at the end of a race.

Need help structuring your training?

Check out the Coach Parry Training Club: Here

If you’re in bed, reading this on your phone or laptop… 

It’s time to turn it off! 😉

When you breathe, you inhale oxygen into your blood…

Your heart pumps the blood into your muscles…

That oxygen fuels chemical reactions that give your muscles energy…

That’s why you breathe more quickly while exercising because your muscles need more energy to work harder.

Did you know that there is something that actually measures how much oxygen you breathe in while exercising as hard as you can?

It’s called VO2 Max.

VO2 max is used as an indicator of your overall athletic and cardiovascular health.

In a lot more detail…

What Is VO2 Max?

VO2 max: The maximum (max) rate (V) of oxygen (O2) your body is able to use during exercise.

We all know that Oxygen is a very important part of the respiratory process. 

Take a deep breath in, hold (for a few seconds), and now breathe out. 

What just happened to you is that your lungs absorbed Oxygen and turned it into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), basically energy. 

The greater your VO2 max (the maximum rate of oxygen your body is able to use during exercise) 

=  Increase in the amount of oxygen your body can consume.

=  Your body can use that oxygen more effectively to generate the maximum amount of ATP energy.

So, how do we even go about finding out what our own VO2 Max is? 

How Is VO2 Max Measured?

  1. In a Lab
  2. On a Device

A laboratory test will involve you running on a treadmill or cycling on a bike whilst wearing a breathing mask (connected to a gas analyzer) while intensity increases by means of incline, speed, or power.

Devices such as trackers or GPS watches give less accurate scores based on your heart rate and estimated using algorithms while exercising.

Why Is VO2 Max Considered Important To Some?

Your VO2 max level can show you how your body handles aerobic fitness exercises like running, swimming, and other cardio types. 

VO2 max can be expressed in liters per minute and in milliliters per kilogram of body mass per minute. 

In essence, your VO2 max shows how well your heart and veins push blood to your muscles and the rest of your body. 

VO2 max can be helpful as it is a good predictor of your athletic performance and it can act as a benchmark to track your progress or maintain your performance. 

A lot of people don’t realize that improving their VO2 max, can enable them to increase the time they spend doing high-intensity exercises…

A VO2 Max Misconception

There is a BIG misconception that your VO2 max IS…  your VO2 max and there’s nothing you can do to change it…

This is because it is a mechanism of demand. 

Meaning: If I’m horribly unfit right now and go for a run and run as hard as I can. I won’t be in a condition to maximize the muscles available and the energy pathways…. So my VO2 will be quite low, relative to myself.

As I get fitter and fitter and am able to demand more of my body, then that demand for oxygen will go up and so… my VO2 max will go up. 

This leads us nicely onto my next point…  We get asked this question all the time.

What Should My VO2 Max Be?

Your VO2 max depends on a few factors:

  • Age
  • Fitness Level
  • Altitude Level
  • Gender

It’s important to note that there is no one “good” VO2 max that everyone should work towards. 

Top endurance athletes practically devote their lives to improving their VO2 max.

For ‘normal’ people, however, a good VO2 max is understood in terms of ‘normal’ values, these are the ranges of VO2 max that researchers have identified in the general population. 

It does seem a bit tricky to understand but just remember that similar VO2 max results can mean different things for different people.

A VO2 max of 40 can be excellent for one person and not even nearly good for another…  

VO2 Max: Men vs Women

Studies show that men generally have more lean muscle mass than women and that women naturally have more fatty tissue.  

Muscles use oxygen while fat is simply stored energy. This is why, on average, men have higher VO2 max values than women. 

A top female endurance athlete will almost certainly have a much higher VO2 max than the average male. However, she will likely have a lower VO2 max compared to a top male endurance athlete.

All of this is probably starting to make sense to you but does it really matter…

Is knowing your VO2 Max Important?

Your VO2 Max is not important unless you would like to be racing on the international stage.

Even on the international stage, you will find that everybody who makes it on the international stage has a very high VO2 max…

BUT

Not everybody who has a very high VO2 max makes it on the international stage.

There are many other factors that contribute to performance such as skill, strength, psychology, etc. and not just the raw VO2 number

So, for you and I… It really is not that important of a number. 

VO2 Max Numbers

As I mentioned above, a lot of watches these days are able to give you a VO2 Max reading. 

The readings from watches are NOT accurate because they all use different algorithms that are based on the speed that you’re running at versus your heart rate.   

A lot of the newer units are using a risk-based heart rate, which is bringing another inaccuracy into the equation. 

If you really want to know what your VO2 Max is then the best way to get tested would be in a lab, where they will physically analyze the oxygen that you are breathing in and the carbon dioxide that you are breathing out.  

The lab test will allow you to see a really nice graph which shows you how oxygen demand goes up and as you get too tired to sustain any more speed increases there will be a slight little dip at the top of the graph, that’s very close to your VO2 max. 

In the video below, Lindsey Parry discusses why VO2 max is not as important as you may think it is.  

Have you ever gotten hyped up to head out for a run, only to look outside and see the sky turning grey and the clouds rolling in?

So, you turn to the dreaded treadmill… or should I say dreadmill? 

Rain doesn’t mean you have to take your runs inside. If you’re preparing for a race, running in the rain is good because most races aren’t canceled due to rain. There are ways to make your runs in the rain safer and more comfortable.

Let’s face it…doing 5km in waterlogged clothes, soggy shoes & socks, and chafing, doesn’t sound like the most enjoyable time. 

What if we told you that running in the rain is good for you?

Why Running In The Rain Is Good For You

Running in the rain is a completely different experience — it’s something new, and it’s exciting. You have nothing to be afraid of…with a little preparedness, you’ll find that you may end up with a smile on your face at the sight of raindrops. 

Running In The Rain Could: 

Help You Run Faster

We all already know that running in cooler weather is easier than running in the heat. Did you know that you’re less likely to get dehydrated or to experience issues like muscle cramps and heatstroke? 

Think about it, when your body isn’t constantly trying to cool itself down, what is it doing?  

Answer: Focusing on performance. 

Help You Lose Weight

According to this study published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, regular exposure to mild cold may be a healthy and sustainable way to help people lose weight. 

This is because your body has to work harder to stay warm, so you end up increasing your metabolic rate after a period of adaptation, and therefore burning more fat during exercise.

Help You Deal With Adversity

Our daily lives aren’t always filled with rainbows and sunshine… 

Heading out for a run in the rain will challenge you to let go of the factors that you can’t control. You can apply that feeling to your daily life when you feel stressed and out of control. 

Help Boost Your Confidence. 

The power, the happiness of returning home after a rainy run boosts morale. – This feeling can’t be explained, only felt for yourself. 

Running in the rain releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body.

Help To Relieve Stress

Running in the rain is a serious head clearer. Running in a light gentle rain shower will make you feel like an absolute zen master. 

By taking in your surroundings and feeling the rain on your skin you’ll be sure to take your mind off of whatever it is that is causing you stress. 

Now that you know there are benefits to getting out there come rain or shine, it’s important to note that you should refrain from running in dangerous conditions like thunderstorms or hail storms. You should also avoid the HEAVY downpours as you could be putting yourself at a higher risk of injury. 

Running Safely In The Rain

  1. Don’t run in thunderstorms.
  2. Wear a hat with a brim to keep the rain off your face.
  3. Dress in layers. (Inner- technical fabric to keep water off your skin) (Outer- wind/water resistant)
  4. Dress for the temperature.
  5. Prevent chafing.
  6. Wear the right shoes. (Trail run- nonwaterproof) (Road run- waterproof)
  7. Wear bright colors to be visible.
  8. Watch your step.
  9. Warm-up properly, especially if it’s cold outside.

Warm-up properly by doing this before every run:

Once you begin running and warm up, you may find that you embrace your inner child and splash your way through the puddles, while feeling like a total badass. 

It’s worth mentioning that while there is much anecdotal evidence there are no hard facts proving that everyone will feel the same about running in the rain.

How to Embrace Your Inner Child & Enjoy Running In The Rain

Reduce Any Squelches With The Right Socks

Yes, those funky, multi-color socks that you bought in an 8 pack from your local go-to store are super affordable and comfortable… but this is the time to take out those heavy-duty, hardcore socks. 

You should look for a pair of socks with Merino wool, it is a fiber you can wear year-round because of its ability to regulate temperature, move moisture, and resist odors.

Avoid Cotton

Cotton absorbs water, which means that when you step out into the rain, your cotton pieces of clothing will hold onto the water, which will leave you feeling rather…soggy. 

We’ll dive into a bit more detail later on about the best types of clothing you should wear while running in the rain. 

You Are Going To Get Wet, Embrace It!

When it’s raining and you step outside, you ARE going to get wet.

Think of it this way…

“Running in the rain is exercise, therapy, and a shower… all at the same time.”

Enjoy it!

Wear a Cap, Always

Wearing a cap is a good idea whether it’s sunny or raining. Yes, the cap won’t keep your head dry, but it will keep some of the rain out of your eyes, making it easier to see. 

Waterproof Shoes – Not a Necessity.

If you’re heading out for a run on the road then a waterproof shoe will go a long way in keeping your feet dry but on a trail run you’re probably going to come upon big puddles and those might be unavoidable… which means you’ll allow the water in, with no escape route out. 

When running in the rain your risk of slipping and falling is increased, so be extra cautious with every step you take. 

Prevent Chafing

Anyone who has experienced any chafing in their running careers knows that it very well could be one of the most unfair and horrible experiences known to man!

You motivated yourself to lace up your running shoes and hit the road, only to receive a lovely reward at the end of it all… raw, burning flesh…. Fantastic. 

Apply Petroleum jelly products like Vaseline to areas where you are prone to chafing as well as where your socks end by your ankles, by your armpits, thighs, and groin. 

The hardest part of running in the rain is just stepping outside.

Once prepared there really isn’t much else for you to do other than to just jump out there and do it. 

Dressing For a Run In The Rain

You should dress in layers (based on the current temperature), the layers need to be light and moisture repellant to easily control your body temperature.

Layers:

One- Something to keep moisture off of your skin, such as a long sleeve shirt. 

Two- T-shirt

Three- A waterproof and wind-breaking jacket. 

It’s also a good idea to wear running shoes that have good traction to help prevent any slips and slides on the run. 

Running in the rain can make you a more resilient runner, just remember to remove any wet clothing as soon as you get home to prevent getting sick and avoid dangerous weather like thunder/lightning storms, hail, and gale-force winds. 

If you enjoyed this article, chances are quite high that you might enjoy this video where Brad and Lindsey chat about how climatic conditions, such as heat, cold, or humidity affect your training… check it out. 

When you inhale, air enters your lungs, and oxygen from the air moves from your lungs to your blood.

At the same time, carbon dioxide moves from your blood to the lungs and is exhaled.  There we have it, gaseous exchange = Life. 

But what about when you’re running… the same process right?  

But why do we find ourselves huffing and puffing not even 1km into our runs?

Research shows that the best way to breathe while running is to take deeper, longer breaths and to include rhythmic breathing. Runners should aim to keep their breathing as controlled as possible for as long as possible, to do this they should take walk breaks before they reach the point of uncontrollable panting. 

It is in any runner’s best interest to focus on their breathing. By breathing properly, runners can maximize their performance, boost running ease and efficiency so that they can run to their full potential. 

So… how do we do it? 

Breathing While Running

The best way to breathe is to undoubtedly have longer deeper breaths, combined with rhythmic breathing. 

Most people’s breathing rates adjust to the energy demand, so the fitter you are, the more efficient that process becomes. 

When you are running one of your harder runs, your respiratory rates (breathing in and out) will increase substantially, but there shouldn’t be any panting. Your breaths should still be big and you should be clearing out most of the capacity of your lungs so that you can take another deep breath in.

The problem (particularly with less trained athletes) is that when they start getting to that point of increased respiratory rates… They start to pant – Shallow, rapid breathing.

Shallow rapid breathing is inefficient because you won’t be getting rid of enough carbon dioxide and you won’t be inhaling enough oxygen. This is when you would quickly start to feel quite tired, resulting in stitches.

How To Breathe Properly While Running

To breathe properly while running you should take deep breaths at a rate determined by the demand for oxygen in your body.

To achieve this, slow your breathing down by actually slowing down your run. Your first goal should be to achieve that deep rhythmic breathing. It’s important to remember that even if you are breathing rapidly but taking deep rapid breaths then that’s alright. As long as you make sure those breaths are deep.

We recommend the run/walk strategy so that you can run faster for longer while breathing properly.

The run/walk strategy applies because you don’t want to run yourself to the point of not being able to breathe properly so you end up panting and having to walk. 

One mistake we see runners often making is when they reach a hill on their route, they choose to run up that hill until they literally can’t anymore, thinking their legs are failing but more often than not, it is the fact that they can’t get enough air. They are forced to walk.

By taking regular walk breaks you can stop yourself from getting anywhere near that respiratory distress.

The Talk Test

We like to call this breathing strategy for running the “Talk Test”. If you are still able to hold a conversation while running, then your breathing is under control as opposed to the good ole’… TalkAsFastAsWeCan…GASP FOR AIR…TalkAsFastAsWeCan method.

Obviously, if you are racing 5km, 10km & 15km races then holding a conversation isn’t going to work but for training runs and long distances then a good way to tell if you are running easy enough and breathing properly is to hold a conversation.

Belly Breathing While Running

As we mentioned above, deep breathing or belly breathing is what will increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles.

Did you know that breathing deeply also has other amazing effects on your body?

Based on this study, belly breathing improves your focus and has a calming effect, which will improve your mental strength.

Now that we know how to breathe properly while running, let’s take a look at what benefits we gain from breathing correctly…

Benefits Of Breathing Properly While You Run

  • Helps you perform at your maximum potential.
  • Helps your muscles get the oxygen they need to keep going.
  • Activates your core.
  • Helps you maintain a steady running pace.
  • Help your muscles produce less carbon dioxide
  • Improve blood circulation and heart health

We know that our bodies will alter our breathing patterns, in response to changes in our activity levels, but some of us have those breathing habits that may be affecting our running abilities…

Nose or Mouth Breathing While Running

There is really no straightforward answer… 

If you’re heading out for a slow, short distance run then inhaling & exhaling through your nose is perfect. As your pace increases, your body will need more oxygen. This is when mouth breathing kicks in to help out. A lot of people choose to inhale through their noses and exhale through their mouths.

If You find yourself struggling to catch your breath and do the talk test. Then it would suit you to inhale and exhale through your mouth. 

During high-intensity runs and races, it’s recommended to breathe through your mouth only, as it’s more efficient because it allows more oxygen to enter your body and fuel your muscles. 

Whether it’s through your nose or mouth, what is most important is that those breaths are deep and controlled. Once you are used to breathing this way while running, you can start working on your rhythmic breathing. 

Rhythmic Breathing While Running

By rhythm, we are referring to how many steps you take during your inhale compared to how many you take during your exhale.

An example:  if you take 2 steps whilst breathing in and then 2 steps whilst breathing out, your breathing rhythm is 2:2. 

Breathing in a rhythmic pattern allows you to take in more oxygen and put less stress on your body.

Research suggests for a normal, easy run following a 3:2 pattern – (Inhale for three) (Exhale for two), and for a faster run following a 2:1 pattern. 

In our opinion, If following a running pattern feels too complicated, it’s perfectly okay. All you need to do is pay attention to your breath to get a sense of how a comfortable rhythm feels.  You’ll get the hang of it!

Struggling To Breathe While You Run?

As you know, running is an aerobic exercise, meaning your body needs large amounts of oxygen to do the activity.
This can result in you gasping for air – which is normal… And can be managed with the breathing strategies we spoke about above.  

By slowing down, taking deeper, controlled, and longer breathes we can control our “panting” and the oxygen demand should be met = normal breathing. 

If your breathing does not improve then we suggest consulting your doctor as it could be a sign of an underlying health condition. 

How To Stop Shortness Of Breath While Running:

  • Slow down
  • Breathe deeply into your core
  • Use your nose & mouth
  • Remove your headphones (Be in touch with your breath)
  • Correct your posture (Straight back & shoulders back)

Check out this video where Coach Lindsey Parry and Brad Brown team up once again to discuss the most efficient way to breathe whilst running: Here