As people hit the streets for exercise during restricted alert levels, one of the country's greatest ultrarunners is warning would-be athletes to prepare properly.
Taranaki runner Lisa Tamati has competed in more than 140 ultramarathons around the globe, totalling over 70,000 kilometres.
And although she said it was awesome to see people hitting the streets for a run during lockdown and at alert level 2, they could actually be doing themselves more harm than good.
“I’ve dedicated my life to running all over the world, and it’s one of the most rewarding sports you will ever get into,” the retired 52-year-old said.
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She is now a coach alongside her business partner, exercise scientist Neil Wagstaff, to over 700 athletes.
“But most runners don’t come to us until they are injured. Everyone thinks that running is easy and that you put one foot in front of the other and it’s a simple thing: you buy a pair of shoes and then off you go.
“It’s not. It’s a skill like ballet that you need to work on and perfect. You need good form, you need strength and mobility, you need a coach and a properly structured plan.”
ACC data shows that from 2016 to July 2021, there were 1,657 running-related injury claims accepted in Taranaki, which cost $1.2 million.
In 2020, there were 276 running-related injury claims in the region, the highest since 2018, and up to July this year there have been 176.
The cost of running injuries in the region in 2020 was $297,564.
Tamati is coaching people in the corporate environment because she says New Zealanders are stressed like never before during the pandemic.
“I’ve been a speaker for around 15 years and these days I get so many requests on stress management and resilience. People are really struggling right now,” she said.
“Getting out in the elements for a run is great for your mental health. We need to be out in nature, in the sunshine and pushing ourselves. It’s part of our DNA and is hugely beneficial to our mental and physical wellbeing.”
To avoid being injured, here are Lisa's top tips for injury prevention:
Talk to a running coach
Downloading a plan off the internet is not doing it right. You need a personalised coaching plan to ensure your training programme is tailored to you, your lifestyle, age, injury profile and goals, she said.
Go to a shop where the staff know how to fit running shoes properly. Shoes that are too small will cause blisters and shin splints and other injuries. Also, have the right shoes for your environment: trail or road.
A dynamic warm up will improve performance and make running more enjoyable, not to mention prevent injury.
Work on strength, mobility and balance
Make ten minutes of mobility work at home a habit, Tamati said. Do yoga, foam rolling or get a massage if that is within your means.
Eat whole, unprocessed foods and don’t overdo the simple carbs.
Put aside time to stretch after your run. Build recovery days into your programme. The gains come during sleep and rest times, not during the actual training. Don’t forget that the next time you are tempted to overtrain and under-sleep.