Top Ten Ways To Avoid Running Injuries:
1) Pay attention to your body.
Don’t ignore what your body is telling you. If something is hurting pay attention to it, find out why, and change what is making it hurt. Rest if necessary, but if the pain doesn’t fade, don’t forget a visit to the doctor’s office if necessary.
2) Avoid the terrible “too’s”.
Don’t do too much, too soon, too often, too fast, too hard, with too little rest.
3) Don’t change things that are working.
Don’t look for the latest and greatest running shoe or even training method. Don’t switch from slow and steady to suddenly doing an all interval workout because someone says you will lose weight quicker and with only 20 minutes of “cardio”. Shoes may be cautiously changed and training should be gradually and sensibly changed. Of course slow and steady is not the only way to train, and for most runners it will not be.
4) Increase training slowly.
The 10% rule for most people is the maximum increase per week, not the minimum. Every third week drop your mileage significantly before moving ahead again from the previous week. The recovery week will allow your body to repair while having a “relative” rest week.
5) Wear running shoes (sport specific shoes) and change them frequently
Don’t run in tennis or cross trainer shoes. Some people like to alternate pairs of shoes to retain their shock absorbing capabilities. But whatever you do, make certain to replace your running shoes every 350 – 450 miles of running. If you run over 30 miles per week, and perhaps even less, make sure you use your shoes exclusively for running, so that you do not waste them with walking miles. The walking is admittedly easier on the shoe than running, but still creates wear and tear.
6) Eat healthy: Not too much, not too little, and a bit less junk
Don’t forget to eat enough healthy foods. Make certain to have adequate calcium and healthy fats (such as the omega fats found in certain fish and fish oil capsules). Don’t forget vegetables and protein sources. Check the origin of your food, particularly check farmed fish which may come from countries which have significant issues of safety with their food supply. (In actuality there are some problems, although different problems with farmed fish from all countries and certain safety issues with fish at sea.) Make sure you don’t cut your caloric level too drastically while dieting. You need fuel to exercise.
7) Strength train two to three days per week.
Musculoskeletal fitness is one of the pillars of fitness. Strength training can be helpful for a variety of reasons. Core strengthening helps many people. And improving lean body weight by increasing muscle helps dieting indirectly and is good for your overall health. If you are a serious, competitive, long distance runner be extremely careful with lower extremity weights, and make sure to stop several weeks before a race. Carefully observe how your training sessions go, and make sure they are not slowing you down, or that fatigue from your strength training sessions are not limiting your long runs. It is probably best to do them before a rest day or an easy day. On days where you may be doing both running and strength training, run first, if you are primarily a runner.
8) Warm up gently before running, Stretch gently when finished
Stretching is not a warm up. It is a flexibility exercise. Evidence is mixed on whether it helps avoid injury, but studies of stretching before running do not show any benefit. Stretching works better after you are warmed up. Run easy for your first 10 minutes of running. Take short steps, move slowly, let your body gradually warm up and adapt to the stresses you are about to place on it. There are many changes that your body will be making to make your running go smoothly, efficiently and easily. Give it a chance to get prepared. If you are doing speed work, this 10 minutes will not be enough. You’ll need a longer and more complex warm up.
9) Use a Carb/Protein mix after long runs and after hard runs or workouts.
This can be a chocolate milk shake or a protein powder mix.
10) Enjoy your runs and workouts.
This should ultimately be fun time, and something you look forward to. Find new paths if you need them, use old favorites if you prefer. Find something to enjoy on each run. Even the accomplishment of getting through a run on an extreme weather day (cold, rainy, not a code orange day) can feel great.
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