Anna Gatta – Staying injury free

How to stay away from injuries?

One question I get quite often is: How often are you hurt? Like if it would be normal that someone doing a lot of sport would be injured regularly.

 

I have practiced sport climbing since 1995 and trail running since 2001.

At the time when I was only focusing on rock climbing, training 4-5 times a week with a pretty good level, I had finger joint issues or shoulder issues many times a year that demanded a complete break from climbing. Sometimes many weeks or even a few months off.

Anna gatta ultra runner injury free

Then, when I started trail running I got more hooked, I couldn’t help giving myself pretty tough objectives resulting in further injuries, hurting my knees more or less every time I ran/walked above 5 hours… I developed strength very fast but my ligaments and tendons where suffering.

ultra runner anna gatta mount fuji in background

 

At this time I had already met my husband, Philippe, and he told me to stop my breaks in the training. “But I need a few rest days a week!”, I was arguing… “And the summer on the French Riviera is too hot for running so I can’t run during summer.”

Today, looking back, I can see that he was right.

For example, when I was training very hard for the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) where I had to run/hike over 600km with +30 000m elevation gain, I made sure to not neglect my climbing training.

anna gatta climbing castillion france

A week of training for GHT could look like below.
I climbed indoors during running rest days since I was too tired from my run training to walk to a cliff!

MONDAY: Interval training uphill (11km)
TUESDAY: Light climbing in gym – stretching (“active rest day”)
WEDNESDAY: Running to climbing gym, climb lightly, running back home (8km)
THURSDAY: Running flat (11–14km)
FRIDAY: Running flat (8km) or light climbing in gym or complete rest day
SATURDAY: Either a short trail or running flat (11–14km)
SUNDAY: Long trail (35–60km)

By running almost every day I taught my body to cope with quick recovery for the day after.

By including some climbing in my “active rest days”, I wasn’t too weak when I started to climb again after the GHT project and my finger joints where ready.

By keeping on jogging, even only 5km, during really hot periods, or keep on doing short trails (15-25km) once a week though I am in a climbing season, I keep my knees and legs in good enough shape to avoid injuries when it is time to start trail running season again.

Being over 40 years old and pushing harder than ever, without any injuries at all, is an amazing joy and relief! Being nervous about getting hurt when you are in the middle of nowhere, far from civilization is a stress I can be without…

Berghaus athlete Anna Gatta, tips on avoiding injury

2 years without injuries and big personal achievements:
• My first multi-day dessert race: 250 km in Atacama, self-supported. http://philippegatta.fr/atacama2.htm
• My first non-stop race: 85 km and +4800m elevation gain around Mount Fuji (STY). http://philippegatta.fr/blog/trail-ultra-trail-mont-fuji/
• Tour de Mont Blanc: Off competition. 170km and +10 000m elevation gain in 4 days. http://philippegatta.fr/tmb2.htm
• Great Himalaya Trail: Off competition. 630km and over +30 000m elevation gain in 18 days. http://philippegatta.fr/ght2.htm

So – try using active rest days to avoid training breaks and see if it helps you stay fit all year around. If you are already hurt: walk fast? If you are tired: run 5km or walk fast with a stretching session afterwards?

Good luck and keep on training!
Anna Gatta

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