Following these 10 injury-prevention commandments of endurance training will help keep you healthy and fit.
1. Rest and Recover
Include rest days in your training plan by taking a complete break from training both physically and mentally. Get off your feet, rest your mind, rest your body for the day. I recommend training no more than two weeks consecutively without resting. Novice and/or masters athletes may require "off" days more frequently. Recovery weeks, typically fewer hours spent exercising or less miles trained, should be included every third to fifth week. Recovery days, easy non-intense training, should follow hard training days.
2. Incorporate Recovery Techniques
There are a number of ways to incorporate recovery into your routine. Biofoam rollers and massage sticks help sore, achy or stiff muscles recover from exercise. Watching movies, spending time with family, reading, listening to music or socializing with friends can all be effective relaxation strategies that allow you to disassociate from physical exercise and reduce tension while developing positive mood states of happiness and calmness.
Essential for physiological growth and repair, routinely physically active individuals are encouraged to aspire for eight to nine and a half hours of sleep each night. Cardiovascular performance can be compromised by up to 20 percent with sleep deprivation, which also reduces reaction time, the ability to process information and emotional stability. Naps are always icing on the cake.
4. Consume Post-Exercise Fuel
The goal of post-exercise nutrition is to restore muscle and liver glycogen stores, improve hydration, and repair muscle tissue. You should eat 15 to 30 minutes after exercise, preferably as soon as possible, when the muscles are most receptive to fuel. Muscle replenishment and tissue repair can be accelerated if you combine carbohydrates and protein together in a ratio of 4 to 1.
Weigh yourself before and after exhaustive exercise to determine how much water you lost. Stay hydrated by consuming at least 24 ounces per pound of body weight lost within six hours after exercise. Performance begins to decrease after only a two percent loss in body water. Include electrolytes to eliminate the risk of hyponatremia if engaging in activity for more than four hours.
5. Warm Up and Cool Down
A proper warmup is a key component to preparing the body for the demands of any training session or competition. Developing a pre-race warmup is unique to each individual. Performing a warmup will elevate heart rate and VO2, and increase blood flow to the connective tissue and local muscles to be trained. This in turn will raise muscle temperature and help decrease joint and muscle stiffness, therefore improving range of motion.