Running is a unique sport because it’s a simple repetitive motion for an extended period of time. It doesn’t require a lot in terms of agility. In that regard — it’s not complicated, but because it’s so simplistic, people often don’t understand why and how injuries can creep in overtime. We often equate injuries with other faster-moving or high-impact sports. Most of the injuries you’ll encounter in running are what would be considered overuse injuries. These can be (but are not limited to) Achilles issues, IT band syndrome, shin splints, hamstring problems, and plantar fasciitis. The problem with these injuries is that they tend to creep in overtime. They often start small and begin to build over many miles. But once they’re in full effect, they can be debilitating to a runner. So how can we avoid injuries in running? Here are a few tips to help keep you injury-free.
1. Running Shoes
Find proper fitting running shoes. Most running stores will have a process for fitting. It would be best if you had shoes that fit your feet, running style, and the number of miles you’d like to achieve. *Pro-tip — buy an extra pair of running shoes and cycle the two pairs of shoes (alternating days). That will help the longevity of the shoe.
Don’t overtrain. Find a running plan that is slow and progressive. It’s critical to think of this sport as a lifelong endeavor and not some quick investment. The best runners are ones who take their time to build miles over months or even years. Set small goals and build up to them. Running is meant to be challenging but not soul-crushing.
3. Listen to your body
Your body is going to tell you when something isn’t right. Watch for the cues (lingering pain, fatigue, consistently elevated heart rate). There’s are all signs that you might be overtraining and are at risk for injuries. Don’t be afraid to take days off — even if it’s not in your training plan. A few days off can help your body bounce back.
4. Do some strength training
Runners aren’t typically big fans of lifting. But there are some benefits to doing some strength work, especially when it comes to core exercises. Add some strength training to your workout regimen to help protect yourself from injuries. Concentrate on core, ankle stability, leg work, and even some upper body.
There’s be a lot of info out there about stretching. I think a little bit of yoga goes a long way for runners. Even if you don’t see it directly correlating, I can tell you that yoga (or even some basic stretching) goes a long way after years of IT band issues.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind. Remember, this sport is a lifetime endeavor. Most runners who take care of themselves can run well into their 70s and even 80s. There’s not a lot of sports out there that allow you to do that. So take care of yourself, and watch for signs. Stay healthy and keep running.
Cya on the trails.