May 24, 2024

Re-Evaluate your Running by Matt Fitzgerald

Running is a rewarding sport and a great way to get fit, but proper progression is essential to long-term sustainable running. Because of its high-impact nature, running can lead to a more overuse injuries than non-impact forms of exercise such as swimming and bicycling.

Re-evaluate your running often to prevent aches and pains. Here are five specific measures critical for long-term sustainable running:

Ease into it. Experienced runners are more resistant to injuries than beginners because their legs have adapted to the repetitive impact of running by becoming more durable. But getting to that point is tricky, because running initially breaks down bone, muscle, and connective tissue before rebuilding it stronger than before. This is when the risk of injury is greatest. 

To minimize this risk you need to give your legs time to rebuild between runs. When you start a new running program you should run every other day at the most. As you progress, heed the 10 percent rule: Don’t increase your mileage or the distance of your longest run by more than 10 percent from week to week.

Listen to your body. Most of the overuse injuries that force runners to miss weeks of training start off as mild aches and pains. If you react to these warning signs quickly by ceasing to run immediately and taking a day or two off, you’ll prevent small problems from becoming big ones.

Strength train. Research has shown that weightlifting and other forms of strength training reduce injury risk in runners by increasing stability in key joints (especially the knees and hips.) Perform functional strength workouts that focus on the core, glutes, hips and legs two or three days a week.

Fix your form. Some of the most common running injuries are connected to abnormalities in an individual runner’s stride. If you do become injured, visit a physical therapist with lots of experience with runners to identify the flaw that contributed to your problem, as well as outline a progam to correct it. Trying to change your stride on your own may do more harm than good. However, one exception is the little trick of trying to make less sound when your feet land. This will force you to run with less impact force and may reduce your injury risk.

Matt Fitzgerald is the author of RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel. He is also a Training Intelligence Specialist for PEAR Sports.