Runners: how to train smarter, not harder, to reduce injury risk

Running the Fargo marathon, follow these tips to stay injury free

Runners: how to train smarter, not harder, to reduce injury risk

Many runners have started training for the Fargo Marathon – follow these tips to injury-free

Running season is upon us! It’s time to lace up our shoes and head out for run in the warmer weather to start training for that race. I love seeing more people out on the street getting in those miles after being cooped up all winter, but if we aren’t training smart we can end up with those nagging injuries that can sideline us from reaching our goals. So I want to share two common mistakes I see runners make and how to avoid them so you can stay healthy and reach that finish line – because running is great, but the fancy medal and snacks at the end of a race is really what keeps us going right?!

Running places a big load on our joints, bones, muscles/tendons, and ligaments. Luckily, our bodies are very resilient and these structures are great at adapting and strengthening over time so they are able to withstand the demand that we are placing on them! BUT (there always has to be a “but”!), if we increase our mileage too quickly, our body doesn’t have enough time to adapt and get stronger and we can experience an injury. A good rule of thumb is to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 20% each week. So if you choose a half-marathon training plan that has you running 20 miles total for the first week, but you are currently running 10 miles per week, then plan to take an extra 4 weeks (adding 2-3 miles per week) to build up to your training program.

Also, take a look at how many miles your first long run of the training program is. If the first long run is 8 miles, but the longest run you have done over the last few months is 4 miles, you should give yourself 3-4 weeks to work your way up to that distance. It might seem redundant to “Train” for a “Training Program”, but your body will thank you for giving it the time it needs to adapt to support you as you work towards your goals!

Mistake #1: Increasing Weekly Mileage Too Quickly

Running places a big load on our joints, bones, muscles/tendons, and ligaments. Luckily, our bodies are very resilient and these structures are great at adapting and strengthening over time so they are able to withstand the demand that we are placing on them! BUT (there always has to be a “but”!), if we increase our mileage too quickly, our body doesn’t have enough time to adapt and get stronger and we can experience an injury. A good rule of thumb is to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 20% each week. So if you choose a half-marathon training plan that has you running 20 miles total for the first week, but you are currently running 10 miles per week, then plan to take an extra 4 weeks (adding 2-3 miles per week) to build up to your training program.

Also, take a look at how many miles your first long run of the training program is. If the first long run is 8 miles, but the longest run you have done over the last few months is 4 miles, you should give yourself 3-4 weeks to work your way up to that distance. It might seem redundant to “Train” for a “Training Program”, but your body will thank you for giving it the time it needs to adapt to support you as you work towards your goals!

Mistake #2: Skipping Rest Days

I can’t stress this enough – Rest days are essential to avoiding injury while training! In my opinion, they are as important as your long runs. I mentioned earlier that our bodies are extremely resilient and can adapt to the stress of running if we give it time, BUT (yep, there’s another one!) if we don’t take a rest day, then our body isn’t able to recover effectively and this can lead to injury. When I say “rest,” I mean getting a good 8 hours of sleep every night and taking 1-3 days off from strenuous exercise per week. Our bodies use this rest time to heal any damage that might have occurred to help these structures get stronger so that the next time we run our body is better able to tolerate it. The number of rest days we need is dependent upon our current fitness level and the intensity of our current exercise program.

Our bodies will also give us some warning signs that we may need to take a little more time for recovery – these include

  • Feeling exhausted most of the time
  • Change in sleep patterns recently
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive and prolonged muscle soreness
  • Feeling of heaviness in limbs
  • Don’t look forward to your runs
  • Feeling like you can’t complete your runs
  • Feeling moody or irritable
  • Feeling guilty if you skip a workout

If you notice some of these signs, then you may need to swap one of your shorter weekly runs for a rest day and consider adding some extra sleep at night. Taking a rest day doesn’t mean that you have to be a couch potato all day! If you want to get some form of exercise in on those days consider taking a walk, doing some stretching, or taking a yoga class!

As a runner, I know it can be hard to put the brakes on when I am feeling excited about my next race. I hope this post helps you understand some of the science behind your training schedule so you can have an enjoyable and injury-free running season!  

© Copyright - Apex Wellness and Physical Therapy | website by Nufire Marketing in Fargo!