Did you know that one of the most injury prone sports is running? More than rugby, or football, or cycling. In fact, research has estimated that between 30-75% of runners per year will get injured*.
Why is this? Part of me thinks it because it is so easy to go for a run most runners just run. They don’t spend time on technique or other training that often forms a part of other sports. We also have the tendency to think a niggle can be ‘ran off’ and keep running until it is too painful and we have to stop, meaning more damage occurs than if we stopped at the first sign of pain.
But a big part of it may be overtraining, doing too much or too soon.
As part of my coaching course we discussed how to plan a cycle of training and the FIT principle came up. This is the principle that in any given training plan you can increase the Frequency, increase the Intensity or increase the Time but not all at once.
So you can increase either how many days you run, how hard you run or how long you run for but only one of these elements.
So if you are a 5k runner who wants to improve your 5k time, you would probably increase the intensity by adding intervals, fartleks and hill sessions, all with the view of helping you to run at speed. But you would only do this for the number of days you usually run for and for shorter times of around 30 minutes.
If you are a 5k runner who wants to run a 10k for the first time you would increase the time by slowly increasing the time you run over several weeks. But you wouldn’t increase the number of days you run or the intensity you run. Of course, within an 8 week training plan you might have a week where you drop the time and increase the intensity but that is still sticking to the FIT principle as by increasing the intensity you have decreased the time.
In learning about this principle I realised that I am a perfect example of what not to do and why I am currently injured.How not to get injured. Ignore the FIT principles at your peril! Click To Tweet
At the beginning of January I started a new training plan to try and get a PB for a 10k race in March. The plan was quite intensive and called for 4 days of running plus some cross training.
Up until that point I was running 3 days a week at most and to be honest over Christmas that was probably down to 2 days. And most of that running was with my two running groups rather than intense efforts. So two to three days of running at an easy pace turned into 4 days of running at a harder pace with lots of speed work thrown in.
After only two weeks in my body said no more and gave me quite a pain in my foot to let me know I was doing too much. Eight weeks later I’m still out of action with plantar fasciitis. There were other contributions to my injury, wearing wellington boots with no support during dog walking being one of them. However, I really think the intensive training plan was the final straw. If only I had known about the FIT principle before I may have adjusted my training plan accordingly and be running the race I was aiming to run last weekend!
So, now you know about the FIT principle you can apply it to you and your training and, hopefully, keep overtraining injuries at bay.
* the range is so wide as there are so many variables. The figures shown here are from Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: A Retrospective Study