Planning Your 2018 Race Calendar

Physiotherapist Scott Newton offers some helpful pointers for those of you planning your running year

As the New Year rounds on us and we all start to think about how we’re going to train harder or ‘better’ than last year to hit the next PB or complete a new challenge, it can be easy to get carried away and over do things.

Here are a few things to bear in mind as you prepare for a great, injury free, and PB-busting 2018.

  1. Get enough sleep. This might seem an odd place to start but so often I see super bright, highly motivated professionals who are quite literally running themselves into the ground, working 12 hour plus days, training before and after work (and in some cases at lunch) in order to hit a PB. This dedication is admirable, but unfortunately, our body needs time to rest, recover and rebuild after we train. If we don’t do this we impair our immune system, reduce the ability of our muscles and joints to favourably adapt to exercise, and we become ‘over-trained’. Physiologically, our fitness improvements occur in the rest period after training. It’s time to consider the mantra of professional athletes – ‘train hard and recover hard’.
  2. Plan your race calendar to stack the odds in your favour as much as possible. This may mean that you have to search out less high profile events, but this is likely to be worthwhile if you’ve been able to get to the start line where you’ve been able to build up your training, whilst paring back a little on your work. Being well rested allows us to get the most out of training. We’re less likely to be ‘run down’, pick up dreaded coughs and colds, and we get to benefit from those beneficial physiological changes that only occur in recovery.

It can be amazing the difference that a week or two of ‘early nights’ can make to your training, particularly in the final week or two before a race, so make this a priority in your race prep.

  1. Get niggles checked out before they stop you running. If you’ve been trying your best to ignore or ‘get on’ with a recurrent pain which you’ve noticed during or after a two or more runs then get it checked out by a physio or sports doctor who specialize in treating runners.
  2. Get stronger. If you only run and do nil strength training (and 30 crunches and press-ups before you go to bed don’t count here) then you can reduce your likelihood of injury and improve your performance by incorporating strength and conditioning sessions into your weekly routine.
  3. Coaching. Getting a UK Athletics qualified coach could be a great way to help structure your training, help your work on your weaknesses and achieve your potential. My coach has been brilliant at keeping me accountable to sessions in my plan, but also ensuring that I don’t over do it, particularly on weeks’ where I’ve felt time pressured with work commitments or I’m just feeling a little under the weather.

Wishing you a great year of running ahead!

Scott Newton is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Running Injury Specialist. For more, visit:

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