With the UK Government allowing the return of organised outdoor sport, running events are now available to sign up to and after being cooped up during lockdown I’m sure many of you will be keen to test out those legs.
With all the enthusiasm that comes with racing & events, a word of warning to those who perhaps have found it difficult to train consistently in order to prepare for races. The old mantra of ‘too much too soon’ applies to training & racing.
I was fortunate to catch up with Matt Wood, Co-Founder of RunThrough, and also an ex-International distance runner to about his training & thoughts for those returning to racing.
At the start our conversation & of Covid-19 we discuss how consistent training leads to adaptation and by forming a habit of training consistently Matt has been able to fend off injury since the start March 2020. “To maintain a level of training over a long period of time is a challenge in itself.” “I started doing 50miles a week in June last year over 5 days at 9-10min/miles but now I’m doing it at 7-7:30min/mile and I’ve not changed anything else.” Matt adds that this felt like a natural progression and he recommends being cautious over adding more training in too soon.
Having sustained an overuse injury to his left knee during his international career at Loughborough and like any runner being keen to avoid further recurrences, Matt has become more sensible with pushing through the pain barrier. “When I feel pain, I’m one of those people that stop straight away, whereas when I was at Loughborough I used to fight through that pain”. How many times can we all say that we’ve felt something, run through it and for it to have gone from niggle to time off running.
This led us to discuss how competition with yourself and others can sometimes result in us “competing on things that you shouldn’t really compete on.” Matt alludes to how, during his junior international career, he “was obsessing about the little details far far too early” which led to “only eating sweets during the day without eating foods and making myself sick” which he believes ended up affecting his bones and leading to his subsequent injury.
His story resonated with me as during my time running at Loughborough I felt the need to keep up with faster athletes during easy runs which resulted in an overtrained state eventually leading to my exit from the sport.
Covid-safe Co-Founder: RunThrough’s Matt Wood
I was naturally intrigued to hear if Matt implemented any strength training into his current training regime to which he commented, “I do know it’s important but now my strength training is minimal & if anything it’s a few calf raises here and there.” Interestingly, here I believe Matt perceives strength training to involve a typical hour session in the gym. When in actual fact, alongside his morning stretching routine, Matt has identified his Achilles heel (pun intended) and possibly fits it around his life by micro dosing or creating smaller units of strength exercises. This unit approach can serve as a flexible alternative to the longer gym based sessions. Food for thought.
Matt nicely summarised our conversation. “If you want to bounce back from injury, you’ve got to find a way to get your body strong enough while you’re injured,” he said. “Then you can come back and train at a different level again.”
Matt’s top tip to best prepare yourself for racing? “One thing you can do is to take on expert help to make your body strong and able to take on the training load.”
- Visit the Optimal Strength website for more blogs of the benefits of strength training for runners at Blog | Optimal Strength
- Matt Wood is Co-Founder of the UK’s leading mass-participation running events and endurance sports organiser RunThrough. Details of many of the 200 events they plan this year can be found at https://www.runthrough.co.uk