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October 11, 2021

4 Tips to Being an Injury-Free Runner

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Injuries are an inevitable part of being an athlete, but they seem surprisingly common in running – a non-contact sport. After 8 years of competitive running, here are my top 4 tips for staying injury-free based on what I have learned from doctors, PT’s, coaches, and other runners.

  1. Gradual increase in mileage

This helps to limit overuse injuries, and most other problems younger or less experienced runners tend to have.Gradually increasing mileage gives you time to build up your strength before jumping into a really hard, high-mileage training plan.

Most runners follow the “10%” rule, meaning your current week’s mileage should only be 10% more than the previous week’s mileage. 

Related: Why Committing Early in Distance Running Is Not Best

  1. Listen to your body

We’ve all heard the “no pain no gain” argument when it comes to nagging aches and pains. In running, this is not always a good mindset. When you pound the pavement nearly everyday, injuries pop up, and in most cases, running through them only makes it worse. If you run often, you can usually tell the difference between the good burn of a hard workout, and the pain of an overworked, injured, or fatigued body.

You can still get the cardio and strength in without stressing your joints through cross-training: take a day to bike, swim, lift, or do some other sort of cross-training. Give your body the chance to heal.

This same ideology goes for being fatigued. Talk to your coach. Maybe you need an extra easy running day or a day off. Resting is an important aspect of training and your body will usually tell you when it needs it. If you feel like you need a break, you probably do.

Related: Arielle Sanders: Having an Injury As a College Athlete

  1. Strengthening

Running is a very repetitive motion, but it only uses certain muscles, so making sure those and supporting muscles are appropriately strong is essential to not getting injured. This can be accomplished through high rep, low weight lifting, but also through ankle exercises and hip exercises like lunges and leg lifts to keep your joints strong and mobile. 

Related: 5 Tips for Track and Field Athletes

  1. Stretching

You hear it all the time. Stretch. It’s not the most fun, and it sometimes takes a while, but it really is crucial to keeping your legs fresh and ready to go. 

Stretching does not mean you have to be super flexible, but even a little bit of extra flexibility can help prevent injury and speed up recovery.

Personally, I use a rope stretching technique which helps to keep me accountable for my stretching. 

Having a routine as a team, or by yourself can be really helpful too!

There is no crazy secret to staying injury free, it just boils down to taking care of yourself.