A new study was recently reported online that deals with training methods used by runners and how changes in the type of training might have a significant impact on the incidence of training injuries.
Is there anyone who has run distance events in track who has not had to contend with shin splints, stress fractures, bone bruises, muscle problems and other injuries associated with overuse and fatigue? A recent issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported on a study that had suggested that in competitive runners, a brief, high-intensity run does not cause the same kinds of fatigue-related changes in running biomechanics and shock absorption as longer training runs.
The article suggested that brief, intense runs might be a useful training approach to help runners reach peak aerobic function while reducing the risk of overuse injuries. “Implementing interval running will allow for cardiorespiratory adaptations while limiting the effects of neuromuscular fatigue and possibly injury,” wrote John P. Alxt, Ph.D. ATC, and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh.
The results of this study seem to contradict earlier studies that have shown changes in joint kinematics and shock absorption in distance runners as they begin to get tired during runs. The authors note that it is possible that this reflects differences in the types of training runs studied. Here 12 runners were studied and they all ran at 95% of their individually measured maximum heart rate until they became fatigued. The average length of time this took was 18 minutes. Other studies have observed runners over outdoor courses.
There is a certain intuitive logic to these results. Any masters age group distance runner knows that he or she can no longer train as often and as long at, say age 55, as they could at age 25. Perhaps the use of shorter, more intense training runs can achieve the same level of aerobic conditioning with lowered chances of injury.
This topic is important. From high school to the Olympics, competitive distance runners have traditionally believed that running more miles run in weekly training sessions is a key to having sustained success in races.
Yet there are many runners who feel that prolonged training runs lead to a breakdown of running mechanics due to the volume of training—and that poor mechanics are what frequently lead to injuries. With our aging population wanting to stay active until much older ages than their predecessors, this kind of research needs to be followed and replicated.
Dr. Thomas P. Roasandich, President of the United States Sports Academy, has a saying that “more is not necessarily better”. He is talking about the need for quality work as opposed to just expending more resources on projects. Perhaps this same type of logic does indeed apply to training for distance running, cycling, swimming and other events.
Comments are invited. To see a report on this online article click here.