We speak to Chris from RunTeach, who explores how his own running journey has enabled him to help others to avoid injury and meet their running targets.
My personal journey
The rain was hammering on the window. It had been chucking it down all night. I could hear the river of water bubbling and gurgling down the drain outside my bedroom window. I lay still, absorbing the morning sounds and letting them wash over my quietly anxious brain.
It was my first-ever race… and I was terrified. A multi-terrain 10K that was to be the start of my journey to fitness, losing three stone and enjoying podium finishes in races from 5K to endurance relays.
As I sit here now and reflect on that race, I feel proud to have taken those first few strides into the world of running. I feel amazed at how far I have travelled and what I have achieved over the last nine years.
And I know it’s a very familiar journey that many of you have set out on. For some of us, it’s a nervous journey. We’re keen to get going, but somehow we feel completely unprepared. It can feel like standing on the edge of a cliff, ready to jump into the unknown. Does this sound familiar to you?
A running explosion
Running is the most wonderful sport. Inclusive and open to all abilities. Easy to start, even if at times it’s not so easy to keep going. Over the past nine years, we have witnessed an astounding explosion in recreational running. Thanks largely to parkrun and similar events, more and more of us are joining the tribe and getting our shoes on.
Sadly though, we have also seen an explosion in running injuries. We seem more impatient than ever to run as many races as possible. Desperate to get fast times, even though we’ve only just started. We want to be involved – so much so that we forget that running is a sport like any other. We need to learn the skills and then practise them.
We get all excited about friends entering events, and before we know it we have the next year already booked solid. Then we find out about distance challenges: 100 miles this month; 150 the next. We think it will give us the motivation and incentive to prepare for races, but frequently it has the opposite effect. We try to ignore the niggles and the pressure we put on ourselves to keep doing more and more and more and more… STOP!
Running and injuries
In all this running madness, we need to step to the side of the trail and take a breath. Running injuries don’t just happen, unless they are of a traumatic, single event nature such as twisting an ankle or falling over. Most running injuries slowly creep up on us and then suddenly one day – BANG! But the good news is that almost all of these are preventable.
When I look back at my own running story, I see very clear patterns. The first is that I learned to run. I absorbed all the information I could. I pieced it together and formulated my own sessions for skills and drills. Then I practised, practised, practised. Even if that practise was only a few minutes in each run.
Seeing is believing
But it doesn’t have to be like that. One of the best things about my job is that I get to see runners improve. I love being involved in the journey runners take, whether they have been running for a few months or many years. Whether they are weekend warriors or seasoned racers. The point where they go from that ‘Aha!’ moment of training errors to that huge smile when they get their next personal best or running achievement.
Usually, it all starts with seeing ourselves run. We may not admit it, but as runners we are pretty vain. Have you studied photos of yourself in races? Have you proudly announced ‘look at my flying feet?’ Have you tried to ignore the photos with hunched backs, collapsing knees and huge overstrides? When I work with a runner, I begin with the video analysis and our high-tech medical-grade force sensors. We don’t just look at your feet, because that doesn’t really tell us very much. We analyse from the top down and measure the impact forces that go through your legs, comparing left and right sides. We conduct a full-body analysis, including basic movements such as squats and hops. We review your current training volume, as well as past and current injuries. We use all of this to paint as complete a picture as we can of you as a runner.
We are all different. There is no right or wrong way to run that applies to us all. It is my job to help you discover what’s right for you. At RunTeach, we firmly believe in first learning the correct movements that allow safe and fast running. We then add strength and endurance to help you become the best runner that you want to be with a reduced injury risk and a solid platform to launch from.
And this is the part I really love. Once you have spent the time to learn the basics, and to train in a smart and progressive manner, you’ll never look back. You’ll experience something special. You’ll suddenly look around you and all those runners you started out with are still back there – and you have journeyed on.
If you would like to shape your running to reduce your injury risk and get those personal best times rolling in, speak to me about an assessment or some running lessons.
I look forward to being part of your running journey.
Stronger – Faster – Runner