If you run frequently and consistently, there’s a greater probability that some pesky running injuries will come your way at some point.
Me? Well 2018 has defined me as an injury pro. Not everything I’ve had has been running related, but I’ve had to stop running for a while and focus on rehab and recovery. Along the way I’ve sought advice form my physiotherapist and learnt a massive amount about what prevents running injuries.
If you want to prevent running injuries, there’s plenty you can do. Here are my top tips for avoiding running injuries and keeping yourself in tip top running shape.
As far as I’m concerned, resting is as important as increasing your mileage and adhering to a regular training routine. I love my rest days and cherish every quiet moment. Rest doesn’t mean having to sit down all day and do nothing, it’s good to keep moving. It’s important though to give your body time to recoup from the stress it’s being placed under. Your legs will thank you when it’s time to run again. Plus, if you just hammer out miles day after day, you’re going to get fatigued and injured.
The 10% Rule
When the running’s going well, it’s tempting to do that bit more and add more miles than planned. We’ve all miscalculated routes in our time or taken a wrong turning back to the car, but if you push your body and ask for more than it’s ready to give, the likelihood of an injury increases. The general rule is to add 10% at a time to your long runs. It works for me. The miles soon add up and within 6 weeks, you’ll find you’re probably a long way from where you started, both in distance and endurance.
Listen To Your Body
Us runners all experience niggles, aches and pains. I don’t know what it’s like for everyone else, but I can get quite fatigued in the latter training stages of a marathon. Sometimes I can’t wait for it to be over so I can give my body the rest it’s asking for. We don’t all feel like this and there are some runners who can go from one race to another without needing much down time. (How do you do that, by the way?)
Listening to our bodies involves more than rest. It’s paying attention to any niggles and whether more than a stretch or an extra day off is needed. I’m guilty of ignoring some pains and have paid the price by having to spend longer on rehab. Missing the odd training session or taking a short break won’t deter your training or your race performance. You’ll probably be better in the long run (no pun intended!).
My Physio told me ages ago that all the elite runners do more than run. They do additional core workouts too. About a year ago, I couldn’t think of anything worse, but having started HIIT (that’s High Intensity Interval Training folks!) workouts, I find they help any niggles or sciatic pain I may have. Plus, I’ve grown to like them. The beauty of HIIT is that they’re only about 20 minutes long so you can fit them in wherever. I would recommend 3-4 times a week and you’ll soon see what I’m talking about. You’ll ache the next day though.
Again, I was previously a bad advert for running because that’s all I did. Time is never on my side when it comes to fitting in extra workouts. However, if you can make the time to do another sport, your body will thank you. Your running performance will also reaps the benefits too. Cycling and swimming are popular amongst runners (hello triathlon!), as is Crossfit. Also, if you’re injured and wanting to keep your fitness up, taking up an alternative sport can help, and possibly aid recovery.
I consider my massive foam roller an instrument of torture but blimey, it works wonders. YouTube is full of people giving advice on what to roll and how often. It’s only when I do some rolling that I realise how tight and knotted up I am. Evil, but necessary, is my view on this one.
Sometimes running injuries just happen. We may fall or trip and there may be nothing we could’ve done to prevent it. Do you have any secrets or tips for staying injury free? It’s often a combination of a number of good habits, I find. What do you think?