Physioworks Health Group
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Australian Physiotherapy Association
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Physioworks Health Group

Spring has sprung. And that means it is fun run season.

Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist Andrew Dalwood, Director of Waverley Park Physiotherapy Centre and Co-Director of Physioworks Health Group Camberwell, discuss lessons he has learnt over the last 12 months as a novice 50 year old runner in training and on fun run event race day.

As a physiotherapist you meet a wide range of athletes – some young and elite, some older with much longevity. I always find this interaction as a wonderful avenue to learn; as I have listened to, and treated, many injured people over the years.

But over the last twelve months, at numerous times as a novice 50 year old runner training for my first Half Marathon (21.1km), I have had to learn to listen to myself!!

So what did I learn?  That Knowledge is King.

Physioworks Health Group - Diary of a 50 year old Novice Runner 

  1. Knowledge about Yourself:

The impact on my mood when I run often –“I feel great”

The Impact of injury –“Boy, I get frustrated”,

On days when feeling great & moving fast meant lots of “self-talk” to slow down to usual training pace!! Otherwise my body—mainly my right calf – would soon start to let me down.

When any run starts to get tough – I count by “7”s for as long & far as I can. My record is up to 406 – it helps passes the time and stops my negative thinking of how tired or sore I feel.  Other runners tell me the music works really well for them!

And I have a new found love for the foam roller, which I use on my calf, quads and hammy every two to three days.

  1. Knowledge about your Body:

The importance of enough sleep before training runs really does make a difference.

As does the time period between of trainings sessions – allow enough recovery time. For me after a long run 10+km; I need a 3-4 days break.

When I can easily do 30 single leg calf raises and 30 single leg bridges again; I have a clear indicator that I am ready to go for a run again. Doing a long walk the day after a long run, at a reasonable pace, also helps my recovery.

I have found lying on my back legs elevated up on the couch with calf pumps for 10 minutes really helps my leg recovery as well.

And rehydrating with water – after each run – is most critical.

  1. Knowledge about your Training Methods:

Number of runs: I have found that twice a week is great for me, with usually 5-8 km mid-week; and build up from 7km to 16km longer weekend run –  increasing the length of run every two weeks by a couple of kms.

The types of runs: Some are just plain long and slow; some have a variety of inclines, such as ramp runs along the beach, so as to test my cardio quickly; and some I might mix with a shorter, quicker, faster run mid-week.

And then add strengthening work: I have tried a variety of days/times to do strength work.  For me, I have found placing this work on the days after the long runs; & at least two days before my “big weekend run” works best. And I enjoy mixing it up with some box jumps, Bosu ball squats & dead weight lifts.

  1. Knowledge about your Race Plan

Following my 2018 Half Marathon event, I have bought a “Fit Bit”  for my 2019 training; to help keep and maintain steady pace, as I found the adrenaline of the event pumped me up to go too hard too early.

There is a big crowd in many races, such as the Melbourne Marathon Festival,    so be patient, build into your pace as it takes a while to get into your groove.

Drink at every water station and I found jelly snakes are GOLD for energy. (NB: you should train to take in drink & food at specific times during your race – and stick to same food & drink on race day – DO NOT change).

My 2019 event plan is to be tested on Sunday 13th October when I tackle the Melbourne Half Marathon again – and my previous experience and lessons will stand me in great stead.

Physioworks Health Group - Diary of a 50 year old Novice Runner

My tips are by no mean the only way of doing things and there is plenty of information and training plans available (see Melbourne Marathon Training)

So I suggest you read all the information and then think about your own body, your level of fitness, and above all, learn to listen to your body.

Each time I’ve had an injury it is because my mind tells me I can and must do that extra run or go faster, but then my legs (and calf) often end up telling me something else.

There-in lies the real lesson.

Happy Exercising, Happy Running.