As I was on my morning run today, I noticed a pain in the back of my heel. My Achilles' tendon to be precise. I took a quick glance at my watch...8:35 pace. Would you think to look at your watch? Why did I?
Turns out Achilles injuries come from a few key factors that most runners' have full control over! No, I don't mean out and out Achilles Rupture that you read about in NBA players. I am talking about the run of the mill overuse tendinitis. Might not sound as severe as a rupture but man can it sideline you. Watch the following training factors to help you minimize risk of Achilles damage.
Speed work- As I mentioned above, the first place I checked was my watch. If your pace is too speedy, you might be pushing your the limit of the Achilles. Keep speed work to 1-2 times per week and balance it with easy runs.
Minimalist shoes- The "heel-toe drop" is all everyone is talking about when it comes to running shoes. If you are going to venture into the land of 4mm or less then you must do so gradually. I recommend walking in the shoes for daily activities for a month first. Then ease these shoes into your regimen a mile at a time.
Hills- Ok so there are a thousand reasons to avoid hills....here is another one. Just kidding, but seriously ease into hill work adding in just a repeat or two and work up to more. Don't go tackle the Morton Arboretum on your first day!
Stretching- Even if you don't find time to stretch anything else,fine 2 minutes for your Achilles stretch. I do this post every run AND every single night while my kids brush their teeth simply using a stair.
Achilles injuries are preventable, but if you find yourself with an aching Achilles be sure to start treatment right away. A simple tendinitis can become chronic or, worse yet, lead to tears.