It’s really common to get injured when you start training for an event particular as a runner. There’s some research that shows that as many as 79% of runners get injured at least once in a year. So rather than thinking it won’t happen to you it’s probably a good idea to have a plan to minimize the risk of injury from the start.
Most people get injured by doing too much too soon. Building up your training gradually is really important. A benchmark is to aim for an increase of no more than 10% of distance/duration or intensity each week.
This means that if you did 3 x 60min runs in a week a 10% increase would be 18minutes which you could add to one run or split over 2 runs.
10% is quite a small amount so it’s obvious how easy it is to do too much to soon especially if you’re behind schedule. Unfortunately it’s quite hard to cram run training like you cram for an exam so starting your training early is really important.
Regular rest: plan your training so that you have some easier days and easier weeks. This will give your brain and body a rest! And it’s during the rest that your body adapts to the training. With athletes I coach we typically have at least 1 day of no training each week and at least 1 easy week of training every 4th week.
Include some cross training in your programme so that you’re still working hard but without the impact of running. Activities such as cycling, spin classes, rowing, using an machines in the gym such as an elliptical, stepper or ski erg and circuit training classes are all great ways to work your heart and lungs and your legs but without running.
Make sure you have trainers that fit and are suitable for your feet and running style. Do your own research and make sure you understand what sort of shoes you’re buying so they’re suitable for you especially if you’re buying online.
Recently a client developed an Achilles injury and after working with a physiotherapist realised it might because the shoes she bought had less cushioning in the heel and a less of a drop between heel and toe. Other common mistakes are getting shoes that are too small or ending up with light weight racing flats suitable for fast 5km-10km races when you’re an injury prone marathon runner.
Luckily in Coventry we have a great running shop at Coventry Runner that should be able to help you with this.
Stretch and mobilise! Doing lots of training builds muscle and can make particular parts of your body become stiff. When they get stiff they stop moving well and will affect something else in your body. Common problems in runners are tight quads and hip flexors which often leads to knee problems and tight calves and ankles which leads to Achilles problems and calf strains.
You could add some stretching after a run but it could also be at a different time of the day. Start your mornings with 15minutes of stretching or finish your day with 5min hip stretches in front of the TV.
Another option is to add in a yoga or Pilates class to your weekly routine or do some yoga routines at home using an app or online platform. Popular among many of athletes I coach is Yoga with Adriene.
Make friends with a foam roller. Foam rolling is a great way to reduce soreness, increase range of motion and treat niggles before they become injuries. I also find foam rolling helps me to notice which any difference between legs and particular tight spots I might not have noticed before.
Address you running technique with a biomechanical analysis from a qualified coach. Get in touch to find out about our running technique coaching. Running is definitely a skill that you can learn and some simple cues can help you to run better and avoid injury.
Build strength so that your muscles, ligaments and tendons can cope with the stress of running and so your core is strong enough to keep your body in alignment even when tired. This could be a home work out, a session at a gym, with a coach or in a gym. Seeing as I’ve had so many injuries in recent years I prioritise strength training and make sure I do at least 1 session every single week. The strength training has made the most difference to my injuries but also to my running speed overall.
Getting a regular sports massage is a great help. A good therapist will help you to be more aware of your body and areas that might become an injury if you don’t get on top of them. They can help you to loosen up and manage ongoing niggles before they become full blown injuries that stop you from running.
Finally, don’t ignore the niggles. Deal with them early before they become full blown injuries!
For some of my other tips and experiences of injuries look here and for tips on how to deal with blisters go here. If you have any other tips or strategies that you use in your own training for injury prevention get in touch to let me know.