I was recently interviewed. Here are my responses to the questions. I hope you will find a kernel of information that might be helpful for you. Beginners rock!
Coach Lora Erickson
What is a tip you share with all beginning runners?
The advice I like to give to beginners is don’t run too much too soon. A seasoned runner can handle a lot more miles and beginners need to build up their miles over a period of time or they will end up injured. If they are not sure how to do this it would be best to follow a program or hire a coach. They also need to use a good pair of running shoes from a specialty store and allow time for a proper warm-up/cool-down & stretching. They should also supplement their running with regular core & strength training.
A lot of people have heard about a walk-and-jog method when they start running. Can you explain what that is and why it’s beneficial?
Yes, I think a walk-run is a great approach to getting started. It allows the body to adapt to the jarring of running. Often walk-run programs require short run bouts sandwiched between walking breaks. I do recommend those starting with this approach eventually build up to continuous running.
How can you improve your speed or endurance?
The best way to improve your speed is to incorporate pace and speed workouts into your training. If you keep doing what you have always done, your results will remain the same. If you want something different, you need to do something different. There are various types of workouts (fartlek, tempo, interval, hill repeats, etc…) but they are often done wrong by beginners. I highly suggest working with a coach and getting specific guidance to improve your speed properly to reduce your risk of injury especially if you plan to start race; 5K, 10K, triathlon, half marathon and especially the marathon distance. Endurance can be built with increasing long run time. A general rule of thumb is 10% a week.
What are the most important factors in having good running form?
There are many factors that contribute to good running form; one of which is utilizing a proper lean from the ankle. Many runners concern themselves with foot strike, but often manipulating the lean can fix heel strike issues. There are many other important elements to proper form but this is usually one that makes the most difference.
What can people do to improve their form, or why is it important to have good form?
Having good form can reduce or eliminate injuries as well as improve overall running economy. The best way to improve your form is have a certified coach evaluate your form and give you direct feedback and specific drills that will help you. Over the 18 years that I have coached I have discovered that no two people are exactly alike and usually flexibility issues and muscular imbalance need to be identified and addressed. I am a big believer in a custom approach to form fixes. I also offer a popular Running Form Class that highlights common problems that when they are fixed allow the runner to meet his or her true potential. You can learn more by visiting www.BlondeRunner.com
What are the most common running injuries?
Overuse injury is commonly found in distance running ie. tendonitis. Simply many runners run through pain that they should not or do too much too soon. Understanding the value of “rest” will lead to more success for any runner.
What are 3 or 4 ways to avoid the common running injuries?
Start slow and allow the body to adapt. Vary the terrain you are running on. I often see people with leg problems because they are always running on a crowned or cambered road. Running on a slant repetitively can cause problems. Also, don’t be afraid to cross-train. Utilizing other sports in your training can make you a well-rounded athlete and allows you to challenge yourself and muscles in other ways. Cross-training also makes running a “treat” since you may not do it everyday and allows you the mental break often needed to prevent burn-out. Swimming builds the strength in the arms and cycling helps strengthen the legs yet is not as hard on the joints. This is why I enjoy triathlon training so much.