Friday, 5 December 2014

How to minimise your injury risk on the Yorkshire Half Marathon-Sheffield.

Entries are now open for next year’s brand new Yorkshire Half Marathon ( It will be staged in Sheffield on Sunday 12th April and is a unique course with the first half all uphill from Sheffield city centre to the edge of the Peak District. The second half descends all the way back down, finishing back in the city centre. Overall there is around 250m of ascent and descent.

I did a practice run of this exciting course a few weeks ago and can confirm that it will provide amazing views over the city and the moors. It will also place very different demands on your body compared to a flat half marathon, combining the injury risks of hill running with those of road running:

Uphill running:
• Increased risk of developing injuries to your achilles and hamstring tendons.

 • But.. it can reduce the risk of injuries to other areas - knees, shins, feet.

Downhill running:
• Increased risk of injury to ALL areas from the hips down to the feet!

• The effect of gravity causes you to land more heavily, which means your body has to absorb more force before pushing off. This puts more loads through the legs thus increasing your risk of injury.

• Running downhill also encourages you to stride out too much and land your foot too far in front of your body. This leads to a breaking force through your leg again increasing forces and injury risk.

• Increased pace also contributes - as a generalisation the faster you run the greater the forces you are placing through your body.

If you already have a known weakness - glutes, kneecap, ITB, calf, foot - then racing 10km downhill on roads is going to test it.

So… how can you ensure you are ready for race day and minimise your risk of injury both in training and during the race?

1) Get strong - by doing standard leg strengthening exercises you can build up the strength in all the main muscles of your legs, helping you to power up the hills and better absorb the forces of the downhill section.

2) If you are not used to running hills on road add them gradually into your training program, initially at a steady pace (especially downhill) before adding some faster hill work.

3) Ensure adequate recovery between hard sessions - with 48 hours (or more) recovery between hard or long sessions your tendons, muscles and joints can recover from the loading before you put the next load through.

4) Work at your downhill technique - practice landing your foot under your body and not over-striding.

5) Practice long descents - downhill running and fatigue are a dangerous combination as you can lose the capacity to manage the landing forces. Practice runs that mimic the nature of the race help you build up your body’s tolerance to prolonged descents. Start with runs of 2km uphill followed by 2km downhill, and then build up slowly till you can comfortably manage the 10km up and 10km down.

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