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Reduce Your Risk

By Dan Van Veen

Isn't it interesting how we all seem to have such GREAT insights AFTER we end doing something that “in retrospect” wasn’t very wise?

I’m going to go over a few of those “silly” things we all do because 1) we think it won’t happen to us; 2) we just don’t think of it; 3) we didn’t know.

SHOES. One of the silly things so many runners tend to do is fall in love with a pair of shoes. Oh, it’s fine to fall in love with a style, but I’m talking about a pair – the ones that fit you like a glove, feel SOOOO comfortable, and actually seem to look okay – from the top down. The problem is, the bottom up. Shoes can have unblemished fabric, not much wear on the interior, and look pretty good UNTIL you check out the soles. If you’ve been running in them for more than a couple of months, start taking weekly looks at the soles – are they wearing unevenly anywhere? Likely they will be showing some wear. Too much wear and you can end up causing yourself an injury as where rubber once was, it no longer is . . . back, leg, ankle pain/injuries all can be a result.

MILEAGE. It doesn’t matter what some program in some magazine tells you to do, you still have to listen to your body when you’re increasing mileage. So many runners try to gut mileage out when their body is begging for a break. They can feel the tightness in a muscle or tendon, they have the warning signs, they can feel the exhaustion, but that little piece of paper says, “Run 8 miles today.” So, they do and bam. An injury. All the training up to that point wasted because what? Not listening.

SPEED. If there’s one thing that causes more injury than anything else is speedwork. You have to be SO careful. Warming-up is more than just a lap around the track. If you’re going to do speedwork, take it seriously. At least a mile of easy running, followed by things such as high knees, strides, butt kicks, etc. You want your legs well prepared before demanding high turnover from them . . . and even then, ease into that . . . and of course, a proper cool down afterwards to flush your legs out is also important. Hamstring injuries, quad injuries, calf injuries are all typical of speed work done wrong . . . funny, isn’t it – speed work takes more time than most any other kind of training. And honestly, I’ve stepped away from speed work as it does take so much time and to me, it’s the definition of high risk and high reward (it works, but the risk is also there).

VITAMINS/HEALTH. If you’re not taking a regime of chelated zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D and possibly magnesium – you should be! Why? The first trio is a mixture that studies have proven to greatly reduce the impact of the cold virus . . . they super-charge your immune system. Not bullet proof, but I have found that since becoming religious about taking those first three, I really haven’t had even a “medium” cold . . . and a bad cold can really mess up your training. I mean, I used to accurately judge my colds that once I went through an entire tissue box of tissues, my cold should be about over. No longer. Magnesium is good for heart health and reducing cramps (click here for more info). Oh, and I can’t make any claims, but COVID is a coronavirus… colds come from the same family (coronavirus). So, you never know if it also helps reduce the impact of COVID – sure can’t hurt!

WATER. Just want to point out the obvious – hydration (especially water) is really important…and guess what. Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper is NOT the same as drinking water! I’ll admit that I’m not an expert on the benefits of drinking diet soda or regular soda . . . that’s because I’ve yet to read anything claiming that any type of soda is good for you . . . though, I guess, if you find yourself in the desert, nearing death, and you already used your water taking a shower to test your Old Spice body wash, then go ahead with the soda! : ) Okay, okay, maybe a soda now and then isn’t going to kill you, but the point being, you should be drinking FAR MORE water than soda . . . make soda an exception.

SLEEP. We all know that our bodies heal best when we’re asleep, but boy, it seems it’s the one thing we tend to skimp on, thinking something like, “I’ll sleep in on another day.” The problem is, too often we make getting the proper rest the exception and over time, that builds. Not only can it lead to injuries, but it most definitely leads to poorer performances. Your body isn’t able to respond to the demand because it hasn’t had enough recovery time (sleep). So, when you try to FORCE it to respond, it doesn’t take a genius to know what happens when you force anything . . . typically ends up breaking. Right?


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