running

NoviceRunnerNik's Top Tips On Starting Running

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NoviceRunnerNik's Top Tips On Starting Running

Has the London Marathon inspired you to take up running or return to running? Our NoviceRunnerNik, who took up running a few years ago, gives us her top tips on getting started:

  1. Start with a Couch 2 5K app or program such as the NHS Couch 2 5k – this introduces you slowly to running over 9 weeks and gradually builds up your fitness and stamina. Much more sensible than my approach of just going for a 3 mile hilly run just like that and hating the feeling of my lungs exploding out of my chest! I very nearly didn’t run again after trying that!

  2. Run more slowly – particularly if it feels like your lungs are exploding out of your chest. If you can hold a conversation with someone (you might need to imagine that someone if you’re running alone) whilst you’re running, then that’s a great pace to run at. If you can’t, then slow down. You’ll enjoy it more - promise!

  3. Buy decent, comfortable running shoes - have your running shoes fitted by a specialist running shop. Tell them your budget and what you want to do. They needn’t cost the earth. You’ll be less likely to pick up an injury wearing shoes that fit you and are fit for the job.

  4. Don’t increase your longest distance or number of miles in a week too quickly, however much you’re enjoying it, or you risk overuse injury. An often quoted rule of thumb is to increase both by no more than 10% per week. Use a free phone app such as Strava to record your runs so that you know how far you’ve been.

  5. Run your own run – don’t worry about what speed or distance someone else is doing. Run to how you feel, rather than a pace you think you should run at on your GPS watch.

  6. Run with other people – join a running club or run walk group or find a friend to run with. Running with others takes your mind off the running and motivates you to turn up and run. Running clubs will have varying routes with leaders so that you don’t even have to think about where to run. In my experience running club members are really friendly and approachable. They aren’t all elite athletes racing for TeamGB (some of my running club members do run for TeamGB but you wouldn’t know it!). And you always have running to talk about.

  7. Buy some proper running clothes - you’ll be more comfortable and you’ll feel the part more and be more motivated to run. You don’t need to spend a fortune. Always wear a decent, supportive sports bra or chest support if you need it. They're vital bits of kit, especially if a few extra grams are being carried in that part of the anatomy.

  8. Vary the routes and surfaces you run on – to keep you interested and to get your body moving in different ways - try footpaths, coast paths, grass, mud etc but be careful.

  9. Get parkrunning! If you haven’t heard of parkruns they are free, timed weekly 5k runs, happening all over the country, every Saturday at 9am. You can walk, jog or run them so they are perfect for new runners and they are great for measuring your progress, if you wish. They only happen because people volunteer to organise and marshal at them so give something back now and again and volunteer too.

  10. Running can be really addictive! Don’t blame me if your running habit starts to escalate out of your control!

Words by NoviceRunnerNik.

Marathon preparation: taking care of your knees

taped marathon knee injury

Marathon preparation: taking care of your knees

It's hurtling towards us at a huge rate of knots, like Brexit, Christmas and Whitsun all rolled into one, but none of these require the same volume of physical, mental and emotional preparation as the London Marathon* (except perhaps Christmas....). As your mileage racks up, certain areas can get tighter, having a knock-on effect elsewhere - in particular the outside of the knee.

If you notice that your running style has started to involve a little more of either your foot turning outwards whilst your knee is facing forwards or your knees turning inwards whist your foot is facing front, this can often end up to soreness in the outside of the knee, increased tension in the iliotibial band (ITB) and/or tightness in the outside of the hip. As the miles increase and this pattern is repeated, it can become very sore. However, there are a few things you can do to check the cause of this.

Where does it come from?

The reason the knee will be turning inwards, or the foot relatively turning out will be related to one of 3 areas:

  • Tight calf muscles

  • Weakness/inhibition of the hip rotators

  • Overactive lateral hamstrings

Knee valgus - this isn’t A Good Thing.

Knee valgus - this isn’t A Good Thing.

Tight calf muscles:

If the alignment issue corrects by doing a decline small knee bend (see images below), it is likely the calf muscle (particularly the gastrocnemius, fact fans) is likely to be part of the main drive of the problem.

Decline small knee bend

Decline small knee bend

If you think you aren't stretching your calves out sufficiently, then start. As soon as possible. If not sooner.

As we fatigue when we run, certain muscle groups will become less effective leaving us with few options to propel us forwards. It often comes down to the calf to drive this and if they aren't getting a sufficient stretch, then the change in mechanics can become problematic. Stretching the calf with a straight knee (fully straight) and holding for up to 20 seconds at a time will help. Not only after a run, but check and stretch regularly through the next few days too.



Weak hip rotators:

If the decline small squat doesn't correct things, it is likely to be a problem with the rotators in the hip, including gluteus medius and some of the deeper rotators. Some light conditioning work can help resolve this problem



Overactive lateral hamstrings:

Difficult to spot on yourself, but if after toe off, your foot tends to turn outwards as the knee comes forward, the outer hamstrings might be dominating the movement. Exercises to balance out knee flexion by using the more medial hamstrings can help, as can identifying which of the other two problems need addressing and working on all of them



Anything else?

Lateral quads stretches can be really useful for this. Think of doing a normal quads stretch (i.e. heel to backside) but stretch using the opposite hand to the affected leg and pull it across to the opposite buttock and push your hip forward. This should favour the outside of the quads around the tight area



Do I really need to stretch?

Stretching is a bit of a faff and it means extra time added onto your run, however it is one of the key practices at this stage to return you ready to run again when you need to train. Just do it!


* other marathons, indeed, other long distance races do exist.



Don’t ignore your niggles or pains this late in your marathon training. Call us for an appointment on 02030 12 12 22.



Words by Paul Martin. Images courtesy of www.medi.de and runningreform.com.

9 weeks to the London Marathon - our top tips and injuries to avoid

Always choose your running kit with care!

Always choose your running kit with care!

9 weeks to the London Marathon - our top tips and injuries to avoid

Congratulations! You are now only 9 weeks from the London Marathon (other marathons are available).

Here are a few tips on how to keep going and avoiding breaking down:

  • Follow a training plan that not only says run. Two short runs and a long run on a weekend. Add in strength and conditioning, plyometrics, cross training and yoga/pilates. This can help with injury prevention and potentially faster times.

  • Your training will hurt. The marathon will hurt. The massages will hurt, everything will hurt. You need to stay motivated and have discipline. You will have good and bad days during your training. You have to be motivated to get out and run, but to keep this up takes discipline. Remember why you are running this race.

  • Be realistic with your finish time especially if it’s your first marathon! Race management is essential. Don’t go off to hard and fast! You can't just double your half marathon time adding 10-15 minutes and expect to run the marathon in that time. Aim to finish your first marathon.

  • Race nutrition: find what works for you! Sweets and Lucozade for energy can help, but be aware of overdoing it with these, try dried fruits, nuts and electrolyte drinks.

  • To stretch or not to stretch! The evidence is conflicting so do what works best for you.

  • Tapering is essential in those last 2-3 weeks. Don’t try and squeeze in one more long run.


Here are the 7 most common injuries and how to manage them:

  1. Runner's Knee: Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is the irritation of the cartilage on the underside of the patella (kneecap). This can flare up during or after long runs. Be aware of foot over-pronation (excessive inward foot rolling) and weakness of the quadriceps, hips, or gluteals. Introduce rest days and reduce mileage. Uphill running can be less painful. Work on strengthening of gluteals, quadriceps and hamstrings. Avoid downhill running. Introduce low impact exercise like cycling, cross trainer or swimming. Try shortening your stride.

  2. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS): the ITB lies along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee. ITB irritation occurs if you take up your mileage too quickly. It’s a stubborn nagging injury. Be aware of foot biomechanics. Hip and gluteal weakness maybe a factor. Rest days and ease off mileage can help. Use a Cross trainer. Mix up the direction of your runs. Try shortening your stride.

  3. Achilles Tendonitis/Calf injuries: Achilles tendon connects the two major calf muscles to the back of the heel. Increasing your mileage too quickly, hill sessions and sprints can aggravate the Achilles. Be aware of tightness of your calf muscles. Stop if you have pain during or after running. You cannot run through this injury. Early diagnosis is essential. Days off will significantly increase your chances of getting back to running. Eccentric stretching and calf strengthen gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are advised.

  4. Hamstring Issues: Muscles that run down the back of our thighs. Be aware of muscle imbalance of quadriceps (thigh) over powering the hamstrings. Sudden strong pain and bruising, significant injury, extended rest required. Less intense, chronic overuse injury, you can usually run. Running a slow, easy pace is usually less difficult than attempting intervals or hills. Cycling, pool running, and swimming helps. Strengthen and stretching your hamstrings will help avoid injuries.

  5. Plantar Fasciitis: Small tears or inflammation of the tendons and ligaments that run from your heel to your toes. Pain is a dull ache or bruise along your arch or on the bottom of your heel, is usually worse first thing in the morning. Be aware of foot biomechanics, high or flattened arches. Avoid increasing mileage too quickly. Tight hip flexors, weakness and tight claves, weak core muscles, and a history of lower back pain can also contribute. This is a nagging injury, running is possible but can delay healing. Pool running and swimming to the keep pressure off your feet. Calf stretches and strengthening. Good fitting shoes are essential.

  6. Shin Splints: Achy pain that results when small tears occur in the muscles around your shin bone. Prevalent in new or returning runners doing too much, too quickly, wearing the wrong shoe or a pair with too many miles, and high arches or flat feet. When pain strikes, ease off your running to a comfortable level for a few days to a week, then slowly up your mileage using the 10 percent rule (no more than 10 percent increase per week). Bike, pool run, and swim.

  7. Stress Fracture: Stress fractures develop due to cumulative strain on the bone. Runners most often have stress fractures in their shins, feet, hips or heels. They are one of the most serious of all running injuries and are a result of over training. More common in women than men. You cannot run through this injury. Expect 8-16 weeks off from running depending on the severity of your injury.


If you suspect you have any one of the above injuries do not hesitate to make an appointment with us by calling us on 02030 12 12 22. Correct management of your injury is essential.

Deferred Entry

If you do have to withdraw from the 2019 London Marathon, you are guaranteed a place in the 2020 race – unless you had already carried your ballot entry over from 2018 or are running for a charity. You have until 20:00 on Saturday 27 April 2019 to complete the withdrawal form on the Virgin Money London Marathon Deferrals page.

Words by Nick Smith.