Irish marathoner, qualified doctor and NN Running Team member Paul Pollock offers his five-point guide to avoiding injury.
1 – Be patient
The most important element to running is to be patient and consistent. If you stick to these two principles and avoid changing both the pace or the mileage too drastically then, theoretically at least, injury should be avoided. So, I would say to all amateur runners; be patient. If you are rushing to train for a race this will probably lead to injury.
2 – Wear comfortable shoes
It sounds very simple but make sure you have a good quality pair of shoes which are comfortable. I learned this lesson from personal experience competing at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow when I wore a pair of shoes two sizes too big for me! When I first took up running I borrowed a pair of size nine trainers from my older brother, Noel, who was also a runner. So, I always wore size nine shoes. At the World Championships, I noticed by feet were slipping, so it was only after the championship I got my feet measured and realised I was a size seven feet.
3 – Take heed of nutrition
Getting a good balance diet is essential when training. It is important to refuel the body with the foods it needs. I would say, reduce the junk food, the chocolates and sweets. All those refined sugars. Another tip I would give is to stop snacking between meals, but if you choose to snack make sure it is healthy food such a yoghurt or nuts to stave off that hunger.
4 – Carry out a thorough warm up
Before every race I try to do at least a two-mile warm up. I think it helps prepare you physically but also mentally for the challenge ahead. I would advise everyone to do a two-mile warm up. Even if each mile is at a ten-minute mile pace.
5 – Recovery is key
Recovery between training is vital to help avoid those niggles. So, whether that is focusing on nutrition by eating a protein bar, having a post-race ice bath or regular massage to stay on top of any injury problems are all advisable.