Training – we’re all individuals

Training… We’re all individuals!

In my sports injury clinic, the most frequent question asked is “what is the most common injury we treat” we always reply “overuse!” It may not be the most specific answer they were looking for but in most cases, people are frequently wheeled in feet first with an injury due to doing way past their limitations in exercise.

A true case history example – We’ll call him John (he does exist!) John visits us at studio57clinic with a knee injury in training for the Brighton marathon. He a 53 year old runner who he has run the past two Brighton marathons. John is not the fittest guy in the world, doesn’t exactly have the typical frame for marathon running yet it’s important not to judge a book by it’s cover! With the entry level flexibility tests I conduct with all my runners regardless of injury or performance, his Squat Test was below average and Thomas Test denoted that his quads and hip flexors were tight, short and inflexible (much like of a vertical lamppost). This year John wishes to break the sub 4 finishing time.  A sub 4 is quite a hard act to achieve, but he was convinced it is possible as he’s following a training program on Runners World requiring him to run 6 x a week and one day recovery (maximum mileage, minimum recovery).  6 times a week seems quite a high level of output per week especially for a 54 year old guy, but mindful of the fact that he’s got a training program from a trusted running website, and that John appeared disciplined and motivated, I supported him with his ambitious target, but also chose to do some further vocal investigation.

On peeling back a layer, I asked about completion times of his 2 previous marathons (seemed the most logical next question to ask him!) Regrettably he told me that he was unable to complete the first marathon as come mile 17 his legs packed up and he was unable to continue. His second attempt also proved to be a struggle as at mile 20 he collapsed requiring oxygen courtesy of St Johns Ambulance. His training plans were much similar to the present plan he’s using, 6 days on, 1 day off. On asking him where he thought he may going wrong (thinking that he may be seeing some clarity of his ways) his only logical belief was that he still wasn’t doing enough mileage.

Without faulting the training program prescribed by one of the leading running magazines in the UK, this was a clear case of a guy picking a training program that suited his mental ability and not relating to his physical ability. This plan would probably suit a club runner, mid 20’s, with a few good years of conditioning in their legs. This wouldn’t suit a 54 year old guy with flexibility limitations and 2 years of unsuccessful marathon attempts.

Where am i going with this? As much as there is great, trusted information out there provided by qualified and experienced writers, training programs should be generated on an individual basis. Training programs must be based on your ability and not your availability!  Regrettably many of us take a ‘Jenga style’ approach to training by taking a great article or a  feature in a magazine and deciding to commit to it.  In most cases, by trying something with a hope of a positive outcome will end up with a negative outcome (some of us find this out the hard way).  Getting the very best program mindful of your own unique set up (age, weight, experience, fitness, flexibility and conditioning) will only come with working in the physical presence of a running coach to give you the ultimate chance of reaching your goals successfully. Quoting Monty Pythons life of Bryan – ‘we’re all individuals!’

What ever happened to John? (john came to the agreement to appreciate that he wasn’t 20 years old anymore, nor was he bullet proof or made of runner) by reducing his weekly mileage and introducing him to a flexibility program, he completed Brighton Marathon. It’s wasn’t a sub 4, but he completed it.

Mitchell Phillips is the director of Brighton & Hove’s physiotherapy and sports injury clinic www.Studio57clinic.co.uk He also has a running technique company offering 360 degree video gait analysis www.strideuk.com

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