So, you’ve hit the ground running in 2022 and are now looking to finish this year with a half marathon, or dare you even say it, a full one! You can see the medals hanging from your mantel piece in your mind’s eye, and you’ve already decided on the perfect celebratory meal to crown your momentous achievement. Life is good, and you look forward to getting started. There’s just one thought lurking in the background, though… a thought you can’t shake, one that seems to replay repeatedly no matter what: “what if I get injured and can’t do what I want to do?” Yes, there it is: the one fear that makes you feel almost as though it isn’t worth even trying. Running injuries can debilitate people for weeks, if not months, especially when the right treatment is given (remember… healing takes time). And so, worrying about what might happen seems to be a legitimate concern. However, it doesn’t have to be! Your training doesn’t need to suffer at the hands of anxiety and worry, and I’m here to tell you why. In this post, we look at tips for avoiding injury while running. We also dive into what you can do if you do get injured to have the least downtime possible. Are you ready? Are your laces tied? Let’s go.
Strength Training Works Wonders!
Integrating strength training one to two days a week is an essential component of an effective running program. Strength training provides the body with tissue resilience for continuous repetitive impact demonstrated with running. The glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gastroc-soleus complex (calf) are all key areas that should be targeted in an effective injury prevention strengthening routine for runners. Targeting these areas can help with lumbopelvic control (hip drop), anterior knee pain (runner’s knee), and shin splints for example. Some examples of exercises that can be used can include single leg heel raises, toe raises, single leg squats or tap downs and some banded glute work.
Recovery is a Must!
Recovery is a vital component of successful performance in any sport, so why should running be any different? Recovery does not only entail what you do following a run or workout, but it also includes strategies you take outside of your training environment. Sleep, food intake, and stress management are some pivotal strategies that can have a positive impact of performance. Research suggests that elite athletes should be shooting for at least eight hours of quality sleep per night.1 Some considerations for an effective sleep routine include staying away from blue light on your phone or TV, meditating/praying, performing a mobility routine, or reading a book before bed. Integrating these strategies can help wind you down and help you stay asleep throughout the night. Your diet is also pivotal towards recovery and performance. Having a balanced diet of nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods with sufficient lean protein, fruits and vegetables are important for overall health and performance. Lastly, eliminating unnecessary stressors can help athletes stay focused and mentally prepared for training and performance.
Avoid Overtraining: Maintain a Gradual Increase in Volume
A good strategy for improving mileage from training block to training block is to have a gradual increase in running volume. A rule of thumb to follow when approaching running volume is to not increase more than 10% each week. A typical training block can range anywhere from 4-6 weeks which includes a slight tapering or deload during the last week to reduce accumulated stress and to prepare the body for the upcoming training block. Another good strategy is to stick to the training plan. How many times have you felt good one day and pushed harder than prescribed or planned? This can place unnecessary stress on the body and nervous system, which can negatively impact effort, intensity, or responsiveness to other scheduled training days. Lastly, it is important to train hard on your hard days and train easy on your easy days. They are programmed that way for a reason and allow your body to adequately recover from volume and provide an environment to produce sufficient intensity on harder days.
Try Physical Therapy
So, what happens if I am starting to experience aches and pains? Rather than trying to figure out discomfort on your own, come see one of our physical therapists at Fick Physical Therapy and Sports Performance! Our physical therapists are well experienced with running related injuries and can conduct a thorough evaluation to help you understand the root cause of your injury, whether that be from a biomechanical issue or a tissue resilience/overload issue. Our care involves individualized programming towards your specific needs so that you can get back to training and prepared for your events without restriction!
So, there you have it: top tips for avoiding injury as you aim towards your running goals. Don’t let the fear of getting hurt keep you back from achieving the things you want to achieve out on the road, trails, or track. If you’re unsure of how or where to start, though, why not give us a call? We’d be happy to help, give advice, or to simply chat to you about your options. Call us today at 720-480-2866 to speak to one of our physical therapists, Dr. Gina Fick or Dr. Chris Munoz!
- Sargent C, Lastella M, Halson SL, Roach GD. How much sleep does an elite athlete need? Human Kinetics. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/16/12/article-p1746.xml. Published May 21, 2021. Accessed August 8, 2022.