Dr Jenn Randall and I get asked this question often. So we decided to answer it separately then compare our answers. You can see her response here.
Understanding the Fizz (physiology, that is).
First off, I feel I benefit from being able to do my own programming because I understand the physiology behind the training I’m doing. When I do a workout, it has a specific purpose (for strength training: this may mean building muscular strength vs power vs muscular endurance. For running: it may mean targeting race pace vs threshold pace vs time on feet training vs recovery pace). This allows me to have confidence in the workout and also know what I’m supposed to be feeling during it, if the workout isn’t feeling right, I can make adjustments to get into the right ‘zone’ for the workout goal. This helps guide my effort/pace on any given day (“make hard days hard and easy days easy”).
Understanding the way the body works and responds to stimuli is great, but not necessary for everyone. It’s not something that an average runner needs to understand (even someone who’s serious about their training).
However, I believe the bigger way being a PT influences my training is that I simply do the things that I advise clients to do (“practice what you preach”); which are the things that are tried and tested to be beneficial to our health and our performance as runners.
-A daily mobility/flexibility routine that I’ve done (nearly without fail) for ~8 years.
-Weight training on a consistent basis (though again, I’m not 100% with this).
-Probably the biggest thing in terms of staving off injury; increasing and decreasing my running in a smart way.
The mobility routine makes sure that I maintain adequate ranges of motion for my activities and that any areas of tightness that have been building are taken care of. I also can perform it in a ‘yoga flow’ sort of way as a warm up prior to running (another recommendation).
Weight training helps strengthen muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues; allowing them to withstand the rigors of running better. It also helps running performance (see previous blog post).
Finally, progressing and regressing running based on feel. Fortunately, I’m not tied to any sort of strict racing schedule. So if something if feeling really off, I can modify/regress my running to help alleviate it before it becomes a big issue. This sounds simple, but that sure doesn’t mean it’s easy to do as a runner.
This discipline honestly just comes from treating enough runners who didn’t do this to recognize what constitutes normal training related aches and stiffness vs warning signs of impending injury. It is normal to have some aches and pains when increasing activities, but there is a way to recognize when this is edging into the territory of injury. Smart regressions of running help reel us back into safety. It’s a hard thing to cut short on group runs, decrease miles when you’re close to (often arbitrary) milestones like 50 miles/week, 20 mile long runs, run streaks, etc- but it can be the difference between a few less miles and a few weeks/monthly of injury.
You know the saying, an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.
But that’s just my two cents.
Let us know what you think, and as always- feel free to reach out and contact us with issues you may be having or inquires on how you can improve the way you move, feel, and perform.