How to Prevent Common Running Injuries
Whether you’re a competitive marathoner or someone who just wants the option to step out of their door and go for a jog, these tips for sustainable running are for you.
Let’s all get on the same page first… The great thing about running is that it has very predictable demands on your body.
That said, there is absolutely no foolproof way to prevent any chance of injury. If you run for long enough through your life, some type of overuse issue/injury is going to pop up.
This blog is to make sure we’re all informed and taking proper steps to decrease those chances as much as possible while also improving your running performance.
The most common errors in training that result in running injuries
First, I think it helps everyone if we define some elements of training before we say, “just don’t do too much too soon.” When runners increase or decrease something in their training, it usually falls under one of the three categories below:
Frequency in this context is exactly what it sounds like. How frequently are you running, whether that be per week or per month?
Here, volume refers to how many miles or how much time you spend running per session or total per week. For simplicity, let’s think about this as total time or mileage per week.
Intensity is a little more variable. The intensity in running could refer to the pace or speed at which you choose to run. It could also refer to a change in incline or hill work. One other example I see that we should all take into account is the intensity of other cross-training or resistance training someone may be doing outside of their running.
Common training errors to avoid
Now that we’ve defined three important elements of training loads for runners. Let’s talk about common errors to avoid, you know, the reason we’re all here.
To be clear, most of these fall under the category of “doing too much too soon,” this is just to put context around that, along with some loose rules to remember.
1) Large spikes in your training load (volume, frequency, or intensity)
If you were to make a line graph of your running loads, it should look more like Microsoft stock than it should Dogecoin stock. In other words, a nice steady incline is much more sustainable than large spikes in your mileage, intensity, or frequency.
2) Failing to schedule a rest day or recovery week
I realize that this is harder for some than others. If you’re a competitive runner and feeling confident in your training, it probably feels tough to take a week or even a day off.
A recovery week doesn’t mean you have to sit on your couch and do nothing. Just take a few days or the week to slow your runs down, or focus on other training variables like some sort of cross-training.
Go for an easy hike, a swim, or pick a couple of days to work on some resistance training or skill work.
3) Too much mileage too soon
It can be tough to find the sweet spot of how much mileage or time to increase your running on a weekly basis. As a general rule of thumb, try to only increase your mileage or time by around 10% per week.
This is known as, you guessed it, “the 10% rule”. As with most rules, there are exceptions. If you’re just starting out, only increasing your mileage by 10% may not be enough, and if you’re putting in some really heavy mileage per week, 10% might be a little too much.
So, use your best judgment.
If you go for a run and you’re still feeling out what your body is going to tolerate, make sure you feel back to baseline or close to it after 24 hours.
4) Be mindful of other activities added in through the week
Summer is approaching, and it’s great to be able to add in other activities and exercise with friends and family throughout the week. Just be mindful and treat your weekly exercise like a budget. If you go to a random high-intensity interval workout with a friend, or go on a hike, log that in as training throughout the week.
5) NOT doing some sort of resistance training.
Reminder, these are common training mistakes. So to be clear, I’m saying that you ABSOLUTELY, WITHOUT A DOUBT, SHOULD do some sort of resistance training. Sorry to yell like that.
Like I mentioned earlier, running has predictable demands, so we can be somewhat specific in picking out a handful of exercises to target areas with high demands during running.
We get a lot of questions about the importance of things like stretching and foam rolling, and in my humble opinion (and the vast majority of research on the topic), you should only spend time doing those things if you enjoy them and have the time to spend on them.
If you have an extra 20 minutes outside of your run, that time would be much more well spent completing some strength exercises than it would foam rolling or stretching.
Now that we’re on the topic of strength exercises, here is a link to a video of our top 5 strength exercises to improve running economy as well as decrease your chances of a running-related injury
Take the right steps to avoid running injuries in the future
In summary, we’ve all made mistakes in our training. If you succumb to one of the mistakes listed above, take it as a learning experience. Even just being aware of these common training issues can assist in your decision-making process. If you need a little assistance outside of this, we’re here to help in any way we can!
Running-related injuries can cause people, at no fault of their own, to fall into rehab purgatory.
We’re here to help assist you in your journey, simplify the process, and give you the tools you need to adjust and improve things on your own!