Fitness Q&A

Anne-Marie Lategan answers your fitness questions

Fitness Q and A

Ultra ambitions
I’d love to run an ultra later this year or in early 2015. So far the furthest I’ve run is a marathon. Should I jump from that to 50 miles or should I stick with a shorter distance ultra?

If you can run a marathon you will be able to do a 50-mile ultra. The difference between training for a 50-mile ultra is that you will have to get used to running slower as well as incorporating hiking as part of your training. Getting used to eating while you walk/run is also important when you increase to ultra distances.

Bad back
I sometimes get low back pain when I run. Do I need to strengthen my back muscles?

This can be due to a weakness in your back muscles, so strengthening them will reduce the pain. But there are also other factors which you need to look at. Are your hamstrings flexible enough? Do you have good lower back mobility? This is important to help absorb and reduce the impact of running. Improving the activation of your glutes (bottom) will also reduce back pain. A visit to a physiotherapist may help.

Toxic 20
I always feel tired during the first 20 minutes of a run and then the feeling goes away and I feel fine. Is there any reason for this and can I stop it from happening?

The first 20 minutes is often described as ‘The Toxic 20’. This is where your body warms up and uses different energy systems to supply you with enough energy to cope with demand. It can’t be stopped as it is a natural body process but you can manage it. The best way is to incorporate a good warm up for about ten minutes. This will get your body ready for running and will reduce fatigue at the beginning of a run. The fitter you become, the quicker your body will adapt to the intensity, but it will always have to go through the same process.

Shin splints
I’ve recently overcome shin splints and have made my return to running. How can I ensure I don’t get them again?

Shin splints can be persistent if not treated properly. Firstly get a gait analysis to ensure that you are using the right shoes, as wrong footwear can be one of the causes of shin splints. Secondly, increase the strength of the muscles in your shins. These muscles are responsible for pulling your foot up to your shin. It helps to stretch and massage your calf muscle. Tightness in your calves can increase the pulling forces of the muscles in your lower leg which can lead to shin splints. Slowly increase mileage and build it up gradually.

Did you know?
Active recovery (gentle exercise) is better than complete rest after a hard workout. Find the balance between being active while still having rest days.


Written by Women's Running Magazine | 1386 articles | View profile

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