With the racing season getting longer every year, meaning that the number of races has increased dramatically, so basically there are no more “off season”, more runners are increasing their running distances and volume. Unfortunately, this results in more runners getting injured.
5 Tips to avoid running injuries:
1.Don’t sign up for too many races– Focus on your most important or favorite races, schedule a well-balanced Race Calendar. At the end of the day, there are so many races, that if at some point, you are looking to add a race you will have no problem finding one. Make sure you include and think of your daily life.
2.Make sure you don’t over-train or under-train– Either can cause injuries. Over-training can not only affect your muscles and joints but also your whole metabolism. Under-training can cause serious injuries. If you run distances that you haven’t trained for, yes you will be able to finish the race but probably with side effects. When our muscles are not trained for specific distances, other muscles have to take over, which can cause many injuries. Try and train for the specific distance, elevation and race course.
3.Switch things up– Repetitive motions and stress can cause injuries. When runners end up always doing the same run, they end up taxing the same parts of the body, muscles and joints again and again.
-Include some trail running- The uneven terrain, elevation changes will engage the muscles differently and alter your stride.
-Switch shoes- Rotate between 2-3 pairs of shoes. Wearing different shoes changes the biomechanics and the running form, which helps reduce repetitive stress.
-Change your pace- In your training plan include some fast runs, slow recovery runs, speed work, hill repeats etc…
-Include regular strength training, bodyweight exercises to get a stronger core and build up some muscle strength, which will lower the risk of injuries.
4.Include proactive recovery– Most runners wait until they start feeling sore or some pain before they start to include some foam rolling, stretching, massage. Schedule regular foam rolling and stretching sessions in your training plan to release the muscles before they get too tight.
-Listen to your body- If you feel low-levels of fatigue or soreness you can continue with your training plan. If you feel tired, achy and sore, you can still run but take it very easy.
-Don’t ignore pain- Pain is here to tell you to stop. Never run through sharp, stabbing pain. Nagging pain can turn into a serious injury.
5.Perfect your running form– Good running technique that matches your personal form and biomechanics is very important to help avoid injuries.
-Count your steps- Try to reach a cadence of 170-180 steps/min. The slower your steps the more pressure you put on your legs, take shorter faster steps.
-Avoid over-striding- Make sure your feet land underneath your hips. Over-striding increases the impact on the foot and the loss of energy.
-Stand up nice and tall- That means when you’re sitting at your desk, while you’re walking, running. When you run, make sure you don’t lean forward at the hips, but a natural forward lean at the ankle, with an open chest, relaxed shoulders and arms bent 90 degrees.
Taking care of yourself should be part of your training plan as well. Life can get very busy, but try to organize a training schedule that includes some time to look after your body:)
Train Hard, Eat Right & Feel Great!