When to defer a race

runningThe truth is that sometimes deferring a race really is the best choice to make, but how do you decide whether to push on or pull out?

When you train for a race it’s a big investment of time and energy. You sacrifice things to fit in the mileage. Gone are Sunday morning lie-ins, boozy nights out and half of your toe nails. It can be a juggling act squeezing in runs home from work, justifying a pub walk as ‘cross training’ and balancing work, family and relationship commitments. It’s hard!

So deciding that after all this training and sacrifice that you won’t run the race you’ve worked hard for is painful. It’s a surprisingly emotive topic, missing a race, and that could persuade you to make bad decisions.

When deciding if to defer there are a few factors to consider;

  • What’s actually wrong? – some conditions will may flare up briefly and settle quickly, you’ll need some guidance from your therapist on this. Every individual situation is different. Many conditions though may experience a long-term deterioration if you ignore your pain and race. Tendinopathy, for example, may progress from a reactive tendon, which usually recovers well with rest and a little rehabilitation to a tendon with structural changes or degeneration which often requires lengthy rehabilitation. For some things racing is an absolute no go, if there is any suspicion of stress fracture for example then don’t race and get properly checked out.
  • Can you fix it? Now ‘fix it’ is probably the wrong phrase – we aren’t like cars, just stick a new fan belt in and away you go! That said, sometimes with the right input things can improve significantly. Often the right advice during the taper period can really help and wearing a compression support or taping can be effective in off-loading healing tissue for a while. In many cases it comes down to resting completely for a short while and making your priority being injury free not squeezing in more miles or ‘testing’ an injury (more on this in while…)
  • How much time is left? Time is a great healer and you may be surprised how well the body will heal itself if you let it. For some races you need to defer well in advance but for some you can wait until the last few days before the race. Give yourself as much as time as possible before making the decision. Healing times for injuries vary considerably.
  • Are you really going to make it round? Is it really worth a lot of pain just to ‘get round’? Part of this question is also are you fit enough? Your injury might hold up but will all the missed mileage take its toll?
  • What are your goals? If your main aim is to beat a PB then you probably won’t achieve that running injured. If however you just want to experience the race and the atmosphere and you think you could find a way of comfortably plodding round then it should be possible.
  • What’s the likely impact of running the race? Think short term and long term, in the short term you’ll be sore, how will that affect you? Would you have to miss work? Can you see someone to help you? Is it likely to settle quickly? How has it been after running recently? In many ways long term impact is more important. Running the race might aggravate the injury for weeks or even months taking it from a fairly simple reactive tendinopathy to something more long term. Most injuries are treatable and will recover but do you want to face missing running for some time and a lengthy period of rehab. If there are likely long term implications then deferring is the most sensible option.
  • Running plans and race schedule – for some a race might just be one of many races in their calendar. Missing it might well mean being fit for other events. For other runners, especially those tackling marathons or fund raising for charity, the race might be the Big One – a once in a lifetime challenge. If this is the case and you have no plans to run soon after the event then you have a little more freedom to take risks. That said, this should always be just one part of your decision!
  • Get advice from a professional – the advice you’ll get from non-professionals, especially from hard-as-nails blokes who champion the phrase ‘Man Up’ will be to run through the pain. Don’t be persuaded by this non evidence based approach. Seek advice from a therapist to enable you to develop a more balanced view.

Once you’ve made a decision be prepared to review it. Things do change but be careful not to jump to any rapid conclusions; just because you feel a bit better for a day or two doesn’t mean you’re suddenly fit to compete!

When the dust has settled and the decision is made it’s important to reflect on how you got injured, to learn from it and stop it happening again.

Choosing to defer is a tough choice. Sometimes though it’s better to think long term, rehab properly and come back stronger. There will always be other races!

Original article: www.running-physio.com/defer/

How to eat healthy at Christmas

Christmas is a time of celebration, but it also tends to be a time of high-fat, high-calorie food. Being part of the Christmas celebration without sabotaging your health goals may be difficult, but it is definitely possible. The key to eating healthy at Christmas is to plan ahead, bringing your own snacks and dishes if necessary, so that you don’t get caught unaware and end up filling up on unhealthy options.christmas-dinner


Step 1

Eat a healthy breakfast on Christmas morning; include at least one fruit or vegetable and some protein such as eggs or nuts. This will help stave off hunger and prevent overeating high-calorie snacks while waiting for the big lunch or dinner to be served.

Step 2

Bring a nutritious dish to the festivities. Offer beforehand to provide a salad or vegetable side dish so you can be assured that there will be at least one healthy item at the meal.

Step 3

Pack a snack to bring with you in case you can’t find anything healthy to nibble on between meals. An apple or orange and a small bag of nuts makes a good portable snack.

Step 4

Consume a healthy snack or small meal every three to four hours throughout the day. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable and is much healthier than consuming a single large meal.

Step 5

Load your plate with healthy options first. Instead of heading straight for the calorie and fat-laden side dishes, choose some lean turkey or ham and vegetables for your first plateful. You can have some higher-calorie options when you’re ready for seconds and already somewhat full.

Step 6

Drink a glass of red wine with your Christmas dinner. Red wine is high in resveratrol, a phytochemical that helps fight heart disease and cancer. If you don’t drink alcohol, try a glass of grape juice or just have plain water instead.

Step 7

Practice portion control. Instead of completely depriving yourself of the high-calorie options, try a single piece or just one bite, enough to get a taste, but not enough to leave you feeling stuffed.

Step 8

Have a cup of tea before, or even in place of, dessert. Tea has loads of antioxidants, and the liquid will fill you up, making it less likely you will gorge on cake, desserts and chocolate.


  • Don’t eat food that has been sitting out for more than an hour or two. Bacteria and other organisms can grow rapidly at room temperature and lead to food poisoning.


Stretching during the winter

quad-stretchEveryone understands how important it is to stretch before any exercise. Now that its winter, it’s really important to remember to stretch, especially if you still crave that outdoor run or workout routine. When it’s cold, your muscles tend to tighten, which makes them more prone to injury.

In warm weather, you probably stretch before doing any exercise. You have to do things slightly different in cold weather. Stretching a cold muscle can result in pulling or straining your muscles because they’re tight. In cold weather, start with a light activity such as walking, jogging or shuffling to get your blood flowing through your body and to your muscles. This will help warm and loosen your muscles.

Dynamic stretching is the key to your winter workouts. When it’s cold, and you’ve got your blood flowing from your brief warm up, keep it flowing with dynamic stretching rather than static stretching. Repetitive moves like arm circles and leg raises help keep your blood flowing while loosening your muscles. Never underestimate the power of a one-minute jumping jack or skipping session to get your body going.

If you’re participating in an outdoor sport that might leave you standing motionless for some periods of time, take that time to complete a few more dynamic stretches in order to keep your muscles warm. Circle your arms, do a few lunges, or even just jog in place to keep the blood pumping. Remember that cold, stiff muscles are more easily injured, so you want to keep yourself feeling warmed up at all times.

Stretching can be a great way to cool down after your workout as well. After intense physical activity, the slow, measured pace of static stretching can help lower your heart rate – and it will feel great on those muscles you have been using. Just remember to never stretch a muscle to the point of pain.

The cold weather is no reason to avoid getting out and enjoying the fresh air this winter. Dress warmly and get a proper stretching routine in place, and you can continue to enjoy your outdoor workout all year long!

Sources: chuzefitness.com; fitnesstogether.com