With the Valley racing season coming up quickly and many marathon training programs in full swing, one of the biggest challenges runners face is making it to the starting line injury free and well rested.
Training blunders are the greatest single cause of injuries that sideline runners and prevent them from making it to the starting line of their chosen race or reaching their personal best. By training wisely, you can avoid becoming a victim of a running injury.
When it comes to marathon training, the two most common reasons for injury are:
1. The runner thinks that “more is better” and increases mileage too rapidly.
2. The runner misses several runs in a row, then, realizing they are behind in training, piles on the miles in an effort to catch up.
These mistakes and others are totally controllable and if the following tips are followed, you have a great chance at making it to the start line injury free! Here’s a list of common mistakes runners make in these situations:
Consistent training is one of the major keys to improving your running and decreasing your chance for a variety of injuries. If you happen to miss several days in a row of running don’t just jump right back into your training program; gradually get back into it and build your mileage slowly. Jumping right back into where you left off greatly increases your risk of injury.
Building mileage too rapidly
Abide by the 10 percent rule. This rule states: (1) do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent; (2) do not increase the distance of your long run by more than 10 percent per week.
Ignoring the hard-easy concept
Hard workouts include long runs, races, speed work, hill repeats, and/or any other taxing workout that demands you to “push your limits.” It is important not to do two hard workouts back-to-back. For example, if you complete a long run on Saturday, don’t run a 10K race on Sunday. Or, if you do a long run or race on Sunday, don’t do a speed work session on Monday. Easy workouts include lower mileage runs, training below your race pace, cross-training and even taking the day off.
Doing the ‘same ole, same ole’
This goes hand-in-hand with the hard-easy concept. Many runners make the mistake of always running longer distances every day of the week or always running at a fast pace. For example, you are more likely to get injured and be more fatigued if you consistently run eight or 10 miles every day. Your muscles need recovery time, therefore, it is important to add in rest days and lower mileage days. In addition, vary your speed. If every run is at race pace you could be headed straight toward injury. Some training runs should be one or two minutes slower than your race pace, others at race pace and your speed work at times above race pace.
Avoiding what your body is telling you
While it’s important to be as consistent as possible regarding your training, you don’t have to be a slave to your training schedule. It is crucial to listen to your body. If your muscles feel fatigued or sore, instead of running five easy miles during the week, take an extra day off and save your energy for your long run. Your legs will thank you! And always incorporate rest days into your schedule prior to hard workouts. If you listen to what your body is telling you throughout your training you decrease your chance for injury or even burnout.
Other prevention strategies include staying well hydrated, having new and proper running shoes, incorporating stretching, weight training and other cross training activities into your program. These prevention tips will be covered in more depth in future Runner’s Rap articles.
*Note: The above is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Ronda Jameel is a certified running coach and owner of Run2Dend. Check out training programs for upcoming races at www.run2dend.com. Questions about running can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.