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We all know what it’s like to commit to that race your friend’s sister’s auntie convinced you to sign up to six months ago; you feel a sense of goodwill and accomplishment at the time. But then, the new year rolls in, you’ve eaten all the mince pies and the only time you’ve put on a pair of trainers in the past month was to walk down to the local shop to pick up more pigs in blankets. Yes, suddenly the feeling of dread and regret comes crashing in. But have no fear, Head of yoga at FLY LDN Fi Clark, suggests five ways to avoid injury and help you get on track with your training this challenge season.

#1 DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING SUPPLEMENTS

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It can seem like a bit of a minefield at times, with about a thousand different products out there. But in all honesty, training puts a lot of strain on your body. Here are some of the key supplements we suggest taking throughout your training. Magnesium, key for regulating the metabolism and aiding muscle recovery. Zinc is a powerful mineral that can often become depleted when training rigorously. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it an immunity  booster as well as key for muscle recovery. Iron is key for getting the most out of your workout, without enough if it, your body will need to work a lot harder to get the energy it needs, especially during a workout. This ultimately means you tire faster.

#2 COMPLEMENT RIGOROUS TRAINING WITH RESTORATIVE EXERCISE

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Whilst training we often only focus on that specific discipline e.g. running, cycling, swimming. However, these forms of movement are intense and put a lot of strain on the body. To avoid injury and improve your performance, balance out your specific discipline training with exercise such as yoga. For example, fitness studio FLY LDN run different types of yoga classes with a more modern, functional fitness approach. Their Slow Flow class aids flexibility of the muscles, which helps posture and alleviates muscle tightness; two key elements which can contribute to injury whilst training. Another of their newly launching classes is Chill, which focuses on releasing deep layers of connective tissue (fascia) which can become very tight and sometimes very painful during training, inhibiting performance. This class also works deeper into the muscle using breath control, aiding flexibility. FLY LDN take a non-yogi, non-jargon approach to their method of teaching yoga and their classes are easily accessible by anyone of any level.

 #3 DON’T RUN BEFORE YOU CAN WALK

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A lot of people when they start training tend to go straight in at the deep end. They push themselves too hard, too early without getting simple things like technique and movement right first. The body is a complex mechanism and with many of us sat at desks and not moving as much as we should, going hell for leather in the first few weeks of training can actually be detrimental to our progress and even cause injury. As such, assess the level you’re at when you first start your training, be patient and begin with a slower pace to gently ease you in, then each week you can build up the pace and the distance in line with your goals. Aim for a steady trajectory of improvement.

 

#4 GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME

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The previous point ties very closely into this one. Time. One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to injuring themselves is leaving their training to the last minute. Even seasoned athletes who’re primed for pushing themselves aggressively give themselves plenty of preparation time in the lead up to a race. Allowing a long enough period has two effects, the first being that psychologically you don’t feel pressurized into over-exerting yourself, which can cause serious and sometimes long term damage. Secondly, it allows your body to adjust and build strength where it needs to, not just to perform at its optimum capability, but also to protect itself from injuries.

 

#5 INVEST IN GOOD QUALITY GEAR

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Ever heard of the phrase “all the gear, no idea”? Well, it’s just as applicable in reverse. It’s all very well lining up our supplements, booking into our restorative yoga classes and carefully planning our training programs, but people often overlook how impactful poor gear or equipment can be. No matter what your discipline, make sure you invest in good quality products. For example, if you plan on running regularly I recommend you start with getting your gait assessed at a running shop. If your trainers are worn down or you have been using them regularly for more than a year, then you should look into getting new ones. The reason being that trainers are essentially an extension of our feet. They impact our balance and the alignment of our ankle, knee and hip joints. So whether you’re running, cycling or swimming make sure your key gear is up to scratch and keeping you safe. That’s right, we’re talking reflective clothing, bike lights, well-fitting goggles or anything else that’s key to your discipline.