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Start on the front foot – tips for the amateur runner

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of picking up an injury while running.

According to the Medibank Better Health Index, there has been a fifty percent increase in participation for running or jogging over the past nine years1. One in five Australians are now lacing up their running shoes to go for a jog, while 3.4% are now training for running events, like marathons. Data from the MBHI also suggests that participation peaks in the middle of the year through the autumn and winter months.

It’s easy to make a decision to start running or exercising regularly, but the simple truth is that your body might not be ready to go from limited exercise to an ambitious training regime. It’s also important to remember that Australian government guidelines for everyday health and fitness recommend two and half hours of moderate intensity exercise a week; so you don’t have to be running marathons every week.

Tips for starting out

  • Warm-up: You’re much more susceptible to injuries when you don’t warm up. Starting your run with a brisk walk for five minutes and some light stretching can be all the difference between an enjoyable workout and an unenjoyable, preventable injury. As you progress, you can consider incorporating some simple strength and conditioning exercises to keep the muscles you use while running in tip-top shape.
  • The right equipment: Running is fantastic for exercise, not only because it requires so little equipment. You do need to make sure that you get the basics right though, like wearing proper running shoes. There’s no one brand or style that suits everyone, so invest in a proper fitting from a specialist retailer. Check out our guide to choosing the correct gear here.
    Technical fabrics can also make your run much more comfortable. Unlike cotton, which retains moisture, a good technical polyester material or merino wool will wick away sweat from your skin, leaving you less susceptible to painful rashes or chafing.
  • Get a training buddy: It’s a lot harder to skip a training day when you’ve got someone you’re accountable to. On cold winter mornings or after a long day at work, having a friend to motivate you out of bed or off the couch can make all the difference. You won’t want to let them down either, and the enthusiasm is infectious.

Risks to be mindful of

  • Overuse injuries: Similar to not warming up, overuse injuries are also common in runners of all levels, though beginners can be particularly susceptible. If you’re just starting out, you’ll find that running uses a lot of muscles in ways they haven’t been used before. They take time and rest to adapt to running. The most important risk factor for picking up an overuse injury is training error, such as going too hard for too long.
  • Running for weight loss – If you weigh in excess of 100 kilos, even low impact exercise like walking can put a strain of over 200 kilos through your joints, and some research indicates that heavier people who start jogging even three kilometres a week are more susceptible to injury. Don’t push yourself into jogging every day if your body isn’t used to it – even marathon training plans have multiple rest days in the week. Consider talking to your GP to create an exercise program that’s right for you.

Medibank is proud to partner with parkrun, a non-profit organisation that hosts weekly 5 km running events, all across Australia and the world. Best of all, it’s held early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday, and it’s 100% free. It’s not about competing with other people – it’s about pushing yourself to be better, one step at a time.

Medibank is also the title sponsor of the Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival, held on the 16th October, 2016. If you’re ready to take the next step up from parkrun, there’s sure to be an event distance that suits you with 3km, 5.7km, 10km, half marathon and marathon events all being held on the day.

To read more about the event, and get some tips on becoming a better runner, visit personalbetter.com.au.

1 Running – from 2.1% 2007-08 to 3.4% 2015-16, Jogging – from 13.1% 2007-08 to 21.8% 2015-16

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