Training for 5K, mud runs : It\’s not all about running!

This time of year people start signing up for all of the runs, 5Ks, 10 milers, mud runs, in order to motivate them to get in shape.  The summer and spring brings a whole host of different types of racing events, triathlons, long distance runs and my personal favorite and newest on the scene, the mud runs.  I can honestly attest to the fact that there is nothing better than diving into a pit of mud after running straight uphill.  To quote my daughter, \”Sometimes you just need to get dirty!\”  With all of these many different events drawing people into compete, there seems to be something for everyone.  And now begins the daunting task of training for these events, as none of them are easy and they need preparation.

It always amazes me how I read on line about these 5K and 10K training programs all they suggest is running.  I apologize for being blunt but most people can run a 5K without having an issue.  It\’s a mind over matter issue.  Your heart is strong enough to make it.  Same thing with some of the mud runs, most of us are in somewhat decent shape that our heart and lungs will be able to push us through a shorter race.  Unfortunately people seem to believe that they will injure themselves if they are not in good enough shape to run the race.  However, being in good enough cardiovascular shape does not mean that you are not set up to have injuries occur while you are running.  And granted you can\’t prevent against all running injuries, you can prevent against some of them.

The best way to train for any of these races is a circuit training program.  Now fair warning, circuits are extremely difficult when done correctly.  But a circuit is designed to do two things, the first is to develop the cardiovascular system but also to develop the core and overall body.  It is extremely important to strengthen muscles as well as develop the core to keep everything functioning properly as you get tired.  This is what people should truly be concerned with the fact that as we get tired, things start to break down, knees start to get blown out, ligaments start to get strained, and cartilage start to tear.  This is what you should be focused on, not if whether cardiovascular you can complete the race.  If you told me you only had time to strength time or to do cardio training I would tell you to do strength training.  You would have far less greater risk of injury if you do more strength training and abdominal training then if you just focused on cardiovascularly being able to run a particular distance.

What people don\’t realize is as you are running and knees get tired and ankles get tired or you get pain when absorbing forces, your body makes small subtle adjustments to avoid these pains.  People don\’t realize how well equipped their body is to making changes without their knowledge.  The scary part is when your body makes adjustments and you can feel them, that is a sign that you are about to experience a major injury.  But most changes your body makes are without your knowledge and with each small adjustment it changes the way everything works together.  Let\’s say that you have a pain in your ankle and you just \’run through it\’.  Eventually it goes away.  Well did it just go away because your body needed to get used to absorbing forces, which is possible, but most likely it went away because you made a small adjustment in your stride in order for the pain to stop.  Well that small adjustment you made in your ankle has now just changed the way your knee is reacting to the ground and your ankle and then the adjustment your knee has to make has now affected your hip and that adjustment has now affected your back and so on and so forth.  Now the forces that are supposed to be transmitted smoothly from your ankle to your head are now being caught up at each joint, causing improper forces to be applied leading to injury.  And there are many running injuries that you can sustain.  With strengthening each of the joints and the core, the body will be able to maintain proper alignment and correctly absorb forces.

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The following program is by no means a complete program and is merely for a beginner looking to start to train.  Stretching at the end of this is also important.

Warm up – Jog for 5 minutes

Lunges – 1 minute right leg, 1 minute left leg

Run on treadmill, pretty fast but not sprinting for 2 minutes

Plank – Go into push up position and then lower to elbows hold for 1 minute.  Repeat 2 times

Run on treadmill for 2 minutes

Push ups 2 minutes

Run on treadmill for 2 minutes

Side planks – Lie on 1 side, prop yourself up on your elbow and your feet, hold for 1 minute, repeat.  Do 2 minutes total on each side

Run on treadmill for 2 minutes

Squats – Sit back, like you are going to sit into a chair try to go all the way down as close to the floor as you can.  Perform 1 minute

Run on Treadmill for 2 minutes

Single leg bridging – Lay on back with knees bent up, lift one leg up in the air and hold it there then using the other leg, push your butt off the ground lower it back down slowly but don\’t let it touch the ground.  Perform for 1 minute each leg.

Run on Treadmill for 2 minutes

Cool down and stretch

If you are unfortunate enough to experience an injury, it is imperative that you seek out physical therapy as soon as possible.  If there is one thing that is repetitive in my blogs that I wish you would understand is that the sooner you seek out physical therapy for an injury, the sooner you will begin healing, the less overall damage you will do and the faster you will be able to heal.  Physical therapy will be able to help correct muscle imbalances, help correct joint misalignment and increase core strength.

It is great that everyone likes to get out when the weather is nice and run and participate in races.  Just make sure that your first race isn\’t your last.

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