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Sydney running races and fun runs

Thinking about signing up for Blackmore’s Running Festival in September? There are four runs to choose from: a marathon, half marathon, the 10km bridge run and the 3.5km family run.  To get a little expert advice for how to prepare and recover from these runs, we asked Dr Brad McIntosh, Physiotherapist and Blackmores Sydney Running Festival Expert, for some help!

So Brad, we’re running in the 10km run this weekend, what sort of stretches and preparations should we do?
“I recommend dynamic (moving) stretches because they help to increase your muscle core temperature. This is because as your body is continuously moving while stretching, they can ‘switch on’ muscles ready for action, which is exactly what you want pre-run. My suggestions for the best six pre-event dynamic stretches are:

Calves – Drop your heels off a step, moving up and down.
Tibialis anterior (front of shin) – Walk on your heels and tip-toes.
Hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings – Lunge-walk whilst maintaining good pelvic alignment.
Quads –Kick your heels to your butt, one at a time.
Hamstrings – Perform high knee marches raising your knee to your chest.
Arms/shoulders/trunk – Swing your arms while standing and maintaining control of your trunk.”

What’s the best way to avoid injury while on a running race?
“It’s best to think of what you can do before, during, and after to help avoid injury. Before the event, and probably most importantly, prepare well with a good dynamic warm-up, good nutrition and appropriate clothing, especially socks and shoes. During the run, listen to your body. If you’re getting sorer or if something is making you change your running style (i.e. a limp), take it easy and enjoy the walk to the finish! After the event, cool down slowly rather than abruptly, and finish with some slower, static stretches.”

What is your advice for a first time runner, who perhaps isn’t that confident with fun runs?
“You’re not the only one! There’ll be lots of people running their first event and feeling the same way. There are lots of resources on the internet to help get you ready. Start with a good training program like those found on the website. Get any old or current injuries assessed by your physio or doctor. Rope someone else in if you can for motivation and support, and if you can’t find anyone, join a beginners running group. Sort your running shoes out, which may require a bit of professional advice from your physio or specialty running shoe shop. Most of all, enjoy it… once you’re hooked, you’ll keep coming back for more!”

And alternatively, what advice do you have for someone who really wants to push themselves to run the half marathon?
“Prepare well! Your body is dynamic and adapts to increasing load. But what it hates is sudden changes. It takes only two weeks of reduced training to make your tendons and bones weaker, and the single biggest reason for injury is training error. Start early, be consistent and stick to the plan. Get your niggles looked at quickly if they’re getting worse or making you change your gait. And don’t forget to cross-train… you’ll do a better time and you’re more likely to avoid injury if your core is strong and stable.”

What’s your best recovery advice for runners?
“These are my suggested post-run static stretches for recovery:

Quads – Hold your heel against your butt, tail tucked under. Feel the stretch in the front of your thigh.
Hamstrings – Place your right foot up onto a step with your knee slightly bent. Bend forwards, maintaining a straight back. Feel the stretch in the back of your thigh only.
Calves – Facing a wall, lean against it with your hands and extend one leg back behind you with the heel on the ground. Feel the stretch in your calf.
Glutes (buttocks) – Lying on your back, take one knee into your chest and across your body towards your opposite shoulder. Add a little rotation by drawing the ankle in towards you. Feel the stretch in the buttocks only.

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