It’s often said that most runners are injured at some point in any given year. That’s why we need to do everything possible to prevent – or minimize – the risk we take in getting injured.
Let’s take me for example. In the 20 years I’ve been running, I’ve had multiple stress fractures, pinched nerve in my foot, IT band pain that lasted 4 months, strained calves, hip flexor issues, compartment syndrome in both calves/shins, “runner’s knee”, weak glutes, plantar fasciitis… And these are just the major issues I’ve had. That doesn’t incorporate the training I’ve missed because of sickness or small injuries.
That’s a long freakin’ list!
Staying healthy is the name of the game in running. #TrainwithMarc has 7 tips you can follow to keep on running!Tweet
Here are some tips and strategies you could use and benefit from when you begin to ramp up your mileage and get ready for a race.
Since I’ve been very unfortunate and have had so many injuries in my running career, I’m well-versed in what to do to prevent injuries (despite my own) and what you can do if you do get injured.
The Best Strategies to Enjoy Distance Running
Use cross training. Cross training is general term for anything that builds cardio without all the pounding. You can bike, swim, use the elliptical or stair-climber… or really anything that builds endurance but doesn’t include hard pounding that running has.
Change up where you run. Some days should be on the roads, some on trails, others on grass… Varying what surface you run on and the paces you run at can greatly reduce your risk of injury.
Change up your running pace. Some days should be super slow, others super fast. Have easy days to support your hard days and make sure your easy days are actually easy. Mix in fartlek running with tempo runs, intervals and long runs. Keep training varied and consistent.
Use off days. Off days are days away from running, but not away from being a runner. On those days, you can still focus on recovery: stretching, foam rolling, self-massage, or icing. Taking care of your body on off days can help you recover and bounce back even quicker from hard running days.
Use strength training and flexibility exercises. Strength training will build up your muscles, tendons and ligaments to allow you to perform more quality work. You’ll be able to run faster and bounce back quicker. You’ll be able to run longer and use less energy/effort to perform that run. Similarly, flexibility exercises will enable your body to move in a fuller range of motion.
Back off training, if necessary. Periodization, in a nut shell, is when your training ebbs and flows based on the phase of training or portion of your (racing) season you’re in, races you plan on running, and the amount of work you’ve done before. Some say you should run 3 hard weeks and follow it with a down week. This is an example of a micro-cycle.
Hire a coach to do the planning. A coach will provide the right amount of training so that you can get stronger, fitter, and faster. A running coach can suggest paces you should aim to hit in both training runs and races. Coaches will inspire you, motivate you, and keep you hungry for more!
Thinking about a coach? Marc offers 3 plans ranging from 3 months to 5 months.
Staying healthy is the name of the game in running. The more work you can do at a high level, the fitter and faster you’ll be. If you always have to take time off of running due to injury, you aren’t able to do the full training. By taking the steps above, you can not only run pain free, but you’ll thoroughly enjoy each and every run.