Friday 26 October 2012

Size as a Factor in Running Injuries

Does size make a difference in whether you will get a running injury? Just to set the scene I am quite big for a runner (or even a person) being six feet two inches tall and around fourteen and half stone (203 lbs). In most people’s minds I don't think I fit into the category of the standard sized runner, as you can see from the picture below:

I have often wondered whether my size will make a difference as to the likelihood of sustaining running injuries. Surely the bigger a person is then the more stress they will put on their body and the more often they will get injured. I have lost count over the years of the people that have told me that they are too big to take up running. Is this a myth or is there some truth in this theory?

When reading Tread Lightly recently I noticed a comment that stated that when you run for each time your foot contacts the ground the forces that are applied are between 2.2 to 2.7 times your own body weight. For me then that is between 447 to 548 lbs which according to the net is greater than the weight of a baby elephant! Weight is an important factor in force so the heavier you are then the higher the force and as such you are probably at a greater risk of a running injury.

It was also interesting to read a study on the links between weight and injuries carried out on 848 novice runners preparing for a 4 mile (6.7 km) race. The study found that of those who were overweight (BMI of over 25) 25% suffered an injury to their back or legs causing a restriction in running for a week whereas for those who were classed as having a normal weight only 15% suffered the same type of injuries.

However weight is not the only factor that needs to be considered when evaluating the risk of contracting a running injury. An interesting study looked at the factors that affect the risk of lower extremity injuries in runners. The study found that increased training distances and history of past injuries are the key risk factors for injury. The study even goes to suggest that overweight individuals are less prone to running injuries, although this is more likely to be linked to the fact that a heavier runner will undertake less training than those who are lighter.

Does Runner size make a difference?  

I think what we can take from the above is that yes as bigger runner you have a slightly higher risk of injury than a smaller runner. However the key factors that will mean that you get hurt or not are the amount of miles that you run and whether you have had past injuries. What should also be considered is that as you increase your running, as long as you don’t eat more calories than you are burning, you will lose weight so reducing the significance of weight as a factor. So all but the very big should not get worried about size when it comes to injuries and running. I received an inspirational tweet the other day from @teamrunner4life which is a good place to finish:
"There are no age, size, or speed requirements to be a runner. You are as fit & fast as you feel. The only excuses are the ones you create”
How about you what are your views do you think your size makes a difference to injuries?

Wednesday 17 October 2012

New Balance MT1010 Coming to the UK

The New Balance MT1010 is a shoe that seems to fill a niche that is not adequately filled by other running shoes: it is relatively light (224g for US 9) and provides adequate protection for rougher trails.The protection comes from a rock plate that runs from the front of the shoe to the midfoot.

The rock plate will prevent rocks, tree roots etc from impacting on the sole of the foot. The MT1010 also provides a little cushioning which is likely to make it ideal for longer trail runs. 

I decided to contact New Balance UK today to find out if they had any plans to release the shoes here (they have been available in the US since July 2012). I have always been impressed by the level of customer service from New Balance and this query was no different. Half an hour later I received the reply I was looking for:

Monday 15 October 2012

Part 1: My Quest to Become a Better Runner - The Baseline

This will be the first post in a series considering changes that can be made to become a better runner. To set the scene I wanted to post about what I have tried already and how I plan to identify further improvements.

First of all what is a ‘better’ runner? I think from my perspective it includes the following factors, all of which in one way or another are closely linked:

  • reduced amount of running injuries,
  • greater enjoyment of the running experience,
  • a more efficient runner, and
  • improved race times.

The more of the above that can be achieved then obviously the better.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Choosing a Running Route

Choosing a good route for a run is important; it can ensure a run is more enjoyable and reduce the risk of injury. I have identified six key factors that you might want to consider when choosing a running route, these are identified in the following graphic and described further in the text below.

Running Terrain

I personally enjoy a mix of running surfaces, one of my favourite runs is around half minor road and half bridleway. There is some evidence to suggest that a different type of running terrain will result in a different type of stress on muscle, tendons and ligaments. Running on one type of terrain all the time places the same type of stress on the body in the same areas resulting in an increased risk of an overuse injury.  A change in running surface can also make the running experience more varied and help reduce boredom.