Five tips for avoiding running injuries.


Five tips for avoiding running injuries.

By Sally Fawcett


January. The days are slowly getting longer again and it’s time to look forward. With a new year come new challenges and new goals – and those Spring races you were planning to run don’t seem so far off any more! Motivation comes easier and suddenly you’re out the door and on the way to making your 2019 goals happen. Great! But before you get carried away, how can you make sure your training kick doesn’t just land you with a new injury? Here are Sally’s tips for staying healthy in the new year.

  1. Vary your running paces - doing all your running at a hard pace is a recipe for disaster (injury, overtraining, fatigue, illness) and also won’t make you a faster runner. Your runs should be broken up into recovery runs, (very easy pace), steady runs (trundling along and able to have a full conversation), tempo runs  (able to talk but it's a struggle) and hard runs (conversation just isn't happening). As a rough guide 80% of your running should be at the recovery or steady pace and 20% faster. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to recover after tempo and hard runs by doing recovery or steady runs for at least 1-2 days,  and remember recovery time lengthens with age.

  2. Vary your running terrain - try softer surfaces (grass, moorland or fields) if you are feeling particularly tight and stiff, conversely run on harder more even surfaces (roads, good trails)  if you are feeling fatigued with reduced balance / control.

  3. Add some strength and conditioning - There is much research supporting the use of strength, balance, core stability and plyometric work to not only reduce injury but also improve running speed. Therefore, including some strength work a few times a week is a good way to ensure you don’t over do the running mileage whilst still doing purposeful training.

  4. Do some cross training - reduce the impact load and give the joints a rest with some cycling, swimming or power walking. If you are training for a long distance event the likelihood is you will be walking for large sections so don’t neglect this in your training. Instead of running, go for a hilly power walk.

  5. Don’t let niggles get out of hand - quick effective management of a niggle will ensure it doesn't progress to a full blown injury. A few easy running days or cross training days can often allow your body to recover and let the niggle calm down. After that, for many types of injuries resting is not the best course of action, but for others it's critical - if in doubt seek professional advice.

Balsalobre-Fernandez C, Santos-Concejero J, Grivas GV (2015) The effects of strength training on running economy in highly trained runners: A systematic review with meta-analysis of controlled trials. Journal of Strength and conditioning research.

Lauersen JB, Bertelsen DM, Anderson LB (2013) The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine.