By Ashley Paulson
Ashley Paulson is a professional triathlete, marathon runner, iFIT Master Trainer, but most importantly a wife and mother of 4. She started her endurance journey in 2000 when she ran her first marathon. Since then, she has completed 99 marathons, with over 25 first-place female finishes. Ashley has also competed in one 50-mile race and 3 100-mile races, where she finished first-place female. She is the Badwater 135 Female course record holder. Ashley earned her pro card as an IRONMAN athlete in 2015 and has completed 26 140.6 full distance triathlons. She also competed in 2 double IRONMANs (281.2 miles), where she not only won both events but also created a new course record at one of them. The pinnacle of Ashley’s career so far has been her debut at the USA 2020 Marathon Olympic Trials where she finished in 44th place and a time of 2:40:06. Outside of the endurance world, Ashley works as an iFIT Master Trainer for iFIT Health & Fitness, filming workouts globally and Live in-studio for millions of iFIT members throughout the world.
I’ve been an avid endurance runner for over 20 years. My first 8 years was injury after injury. I’m straight up addicted to running, so being sidelined was a NIGHTMARE! I’m now 41 years old and running more miles than ever. I haven’t been injured since 2008 (well, unless I meet the asphalt on my bike..YIKES!)
I’m going to share 5 tips with you that have been key to me staying injury free, feeling stronger and faster than in my 20s and 30s.
1 – DON’T RUN EVERYDAY
Wait, what?? Yes, your read that right! Even while training for my 100 miler events, I only run 5 days a week. I may do double runs on some of those days, but I always give my body 2 days a week without running.
I’m not saying take them off. MOVE! Jump on your bike, go for a swim… CROSS TRAIN! The daily high impact of running can lead to overuse of the muscles. Then you start compensating in other areas and BAM! Before you know it… SIDELINED!
PLUS, you don’t get burnt out from daily running. The more you enjoy running, the more likely you are to stay CONSISTENT!!
2 – Proper warm up.
We all know this, but we don’t all do it. Taking time to warm up was a rough one for me for YEARS!! As a mom of 4, wife, and gosh, just LIFE… time isn’t always on my side, and I would just go right into my main set. No! DON’T DO IT! You’re better off cutting into some of your main set then skipping your warm up!
This is a great time to get some dynamic stretches done, strides and work on form. Prepping the joints and ligaments for the training it’s about to do. PLUS, you feel SO much stronger on your main set. Skipping 100 meters is GREAT in the warmup but don’t SKIP the warmup 😉
3 – Hill work WORKS!!
MOST avoid hills. “Hills mess with my MPH” “Hills are HARD.” Ever said anything like this to yourself? Ignore the MPH. GO with EFFORT! Training on hills improves leg-muscle strength, quickens your stride, develops your cardiovascular system, and can even protect your leg muscles against soreness. In short, hill running will make you a stronger, faster, and healthier runner.
4 – Dial in on your cadence
Working your running cadence can help you decrease fatigue so you can run longer. A higher cadence is associated with decreased ground reaction forces. These are the forces exerted on your body by the ground when your foot hits it. More simply put, a higher cadence means less impact. A higher cadence also helps you land UNDER your hips rather than over-striding. Less impact. Less injuries.
5 – Strength train
This one was hard for me to incorporate. I wanted to RUN not be pumping iron at the gym. I don’t LOVE strength train like I LOVE running BUT… I LOVE the results of strength train. Strength training has the potential to reduce your injury risk by correcting muscle imbalances and improving muscle activation, as well as increasing the efficiency of your running biomechanics which results in improved running performance.
There you have it!! Go grab a friend and lace up…TIME TO RUN!
These are just a few basic suggestions based on my experience. Give it your best shot and see what works for you, but don’t give up hope that the outside running season is over. It has only just begun!