With gyms closed and our nation’s waistlines expanding, it’s no wonder that more and more of us are choosing running as a way to stay fit during the lockdown.
If you are returning to running, we applaud you for heroically dusting off your trainers to pound the deserted roads of the British Isles. However, we hope that you are looking after your feet. Running is great for your health but it is an injury-prone pursuit so we decided to share some professional advice given to us.
Enter Anna Smith-James - a passionate runner and the author of the hugely popular “Anna the Apple” blog. Not only she is “obsessed” by running (her own words), Anna can smash a marathon in 3 hours and 16 minutes… This girl must know a thing or two about foot health and sports recovery!
Anna, why do you run so far (and so fast)?
Long distance running is my passion – I much prefer it to the shorter distances. I love setting off with a podcast or just my own thoughts and relaxing into a long run, letting my legs find a pace I’m comfortable with and just being zoned out. I don’t particularly like the lung-busting pain of a fast sprint, and with long distance running I don’t have that feeling as it’s all a bit more relaxed and relatively slower.
The distances that you cover must put a lot of stress on your feet. Have you ever had a foot injury?
Thankfully I haven’t had a foot injury per se (though I have lost several toenails!), but I’ve had injuries caused by my feet, if that makes sense. I used to have very flat feet (fallen arches) and this would put a lot of pressure elsewhere on my body, like my knees and hips. So I spent a long time working on my foot strength and making sure the shoes I wore had the correct support for my arches. This helped strengthen my feet and keep injuries at bay.
You must have an injury prevention pre- and post-exercise routine. Could you please share some tips to help us all run injury-free?
For my long runs I always wear compression socks which I find hugely support my calves, which can often get cramped up during longer runs. I also do a lot of foam rolling on my rest days – and this includes using a tennis ball or even a golf ball to gently massage the bottoms of my feet. This just keeps everything nice and loose. And I’m a big fan of strength training – so lots of glute and leg exercises as well as keeping my arches strong to give a solid base.
We are hearing more and more about the importance of arch support for running footwear. How do you choose your trainers?
As someone who has gone from very flat feet to slightly less flat feet after strengthening my arches, I am very careful with the trainers and shoes I choose. I wear stability trainers to stop my feet rolling inwards. Whilst my arches might be stronger, I do get tired towards the end of a run and my form needs that extra support.
What do you think about your first pair of Starfish flip-flops by Aussie Soles? Could they become a part of your recovery routine?
I love them! There is nothing nicer than taking off your trainers after a long run (especially a marathon!) and putting your feet into a pair of flip-flops. And what I love is that they have such a good support for your feet. Flip-flops often get a bad reputation for being terrible for your feet, but with the orthotics built in I no longer feel guilty popping them on for a gentle walk post-run!
You can follow Anna's running adventures and infectious smile via these links: