The Most Important Part Of Running? It’s Way More Than Shoes!

Juan Nieto leads Polestar Pilates Spain and is an educator and co-developer of our new Online “Runity Painless Running Course”. As a Physical Therapist and Pilates Instructor, he thrives in bringing the latest technology and research to the Polestar international body. 

This excerpt was taken from Polestar’s Pilates Hour Live: “Updating the Science of Running” with Juan Nieto and Brent Anderson. Register for our upcoming #PilatesHour Webinar here.

What causes running injuries? 

JN: At the beginning of all the running research it was very focused on biomechanics; kinetics and kinematics. Then we started talking about shoes and maybe even speed and cadence. We then realized again that We are Humans! Even though there are biomechanical variables we can measure like form and cadence, there are additional things that are also influencing running. What about the psychological and mental aspects including motivation, the passion for running, the training strategy, load management and very importantly, recovery including sleep and nutrition.

We know now that all of these things are important to running.  I think collectively people still think it’s all about biomechanics, running form, technique, and stretching. I always take the opportunity to spread the message that “We are humans”. We are complex, and the more we understand our complexity and embrace it, the better therapists, coaches, and runners we are going to become.  

BA:  That’s right, we are incredibly complex. That’s why movement science is so difficult because it’s not just understanding the biomechanics. It goes far beyond that into understanding human behavior and everything that goes with it.

The Pandemic’s Impact On Running

JN:  Every time we go to practice running we are exposing ourselves to a certain risk.  In a survey of over 1000 runners, they found the Covid-19 pandemic impacted running behavior. It’s interesting because people increased their running time and mileage but decreased their intensity.  

Perhaps the people in this study had more time on their hands or were limited to running as the only way to get out of the house.  If you remember during the pandemic, at least where I am from in Spain, we couldn’t even go running outside at the beginning of the pandemic. Eventually, we were allowed to go outside for exercise. 

JN: Another thing I find important in this survey is how the motivation for running declined.  I believe people changed their minds about running from competition and socialization to fitness and stress relief. Perhaps also simply occupying an increase in free time. Another interesting thing is that the injury risk became 40% higher during the pandemic for overuse injuries.  Maybe this lack of motivation or mood, or not understanding how to create a routine with an increase in spare time, caused the number of injuries to increase.  

The study also pointed out that 90% of the runners surveyed were using technology to record some type of data of their running.  The majority of this was technology to interact with coaches, training plans, and exercise prescriptions.  These coaches and therapists utilized technology to keep their clients motivated, send them training plans and create a goal-setting environment. Through this, they could still help to mitigate injury risk, which is exactly what we envisioned when we started my company Runity in 2015. 

Passion for Running

JN: There is an important role of the passion for running” in the relationship between mental recovery and running-related injuries.

There are many runners who are devoted to and are very passionate about their sport. We need to understand that we’re looking at two types of passion. We can see what they refer to in the study as “harmonious passion” as well as “obsessive passion” and it seems in most runners tend to find this obsessive passion. 

Harmonious Passion can be seen as having control over running. It could be seen as a harmony between the runner’s passion for running and other activities in their life. This passion is more about balance and most importantly having adequate mental and physical recovery.

Obsessive Passion can be seen as having very little or lack of control over running.  Having a very rigid persistence and sometimes seeing this creating conflicts with other activities in a runner’s life.  

What they found in the study is that a combination of harmonious passion for running and mental recovery after running are important predictors of preventing running-related injuries. The flip side is that obsessive passion for running is a mental risk factor for running-related injuries. 

What we have been advocating at RUNITY since day one is not needing to be the best runner in the world or being able to run all the running events that exist. We advocate being able to have fun and enjoy running every time you run.  

JN: There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you enter a running event. That’s the reason why it’s so important to focus on your Pre-Hab.  

Are you ready to run a marathon? 

Do you really need to run a marathon to be happy? Are you going to put your body through hell because your friends want you to run with them or because you want to participate or belong to the group?

30% of people that we see in the study were underprepared regarding the prerequisites to running a marathon.  As for running coaches and physical therapists, we need to help people understand the work in these prerequisites and help them prepare for the next marathon so they may be adequately conditioned to participate.

Sometimes obsessive passions are great because they allow you to do amazing things! It’s like the path of the hero. In a way you destroy yourself for the greater good, to transcend, or to get the gold medal. Maybe some people want to, or need to do that.  

Other people are looking for longevity, fun, and enjoyment in their activities. Maybe they are looking to get 1% better every day.  You have to decide where you are on the spectrum. Are you in the place of the hero, willing to ruin your health and longevity in order to get something very important to you?  Maybe you are trying to get a sustainable and longer life as a runner. 

This online course will teach any movement coach the essential research, exercises, and techniques to prescribe to their running clients to minimize imbalances and risk of injury and strengthen their body’s natural design to run. Let Runity move you!

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