Avoiding Injuries when Road Running – Part 1

Pulling up injured while running is every athlete’s nightmare. Sadly, despite plenty of good information, injuries remain a fact of road running life. Experts suggest that between 17% and 67% of all road runners are likely to pick up one or more injury this year. With figures as high as that you would think more would be done to prevent them. In this blog we aim to shed some light on some of the best ways to avoid injury, by following simple, actionable steps.

Doing Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast

When you embark on something new it is much better if you do so with enthusiasm. However, too much enthusiasm isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to road running. Budding athletes forget that muscles and joints need time to re-adjust to the increasing vigour’s of a training schedule. Rushing the process will increase the chances that the body will break down rather than actually building up. Running experts recognized that putting undue pressure on the body will eventually cause issues and set you back. With this in mind there is a well-documented procedure that will help you to increase distances in a controlled fashion. The rule they introduced was simply called the 10% rule, for obvious reasons:

  • Week 1–10 km
  • Week 2 –11 km
  • Week 3–12 km

You can see the pattern here. Stepping up 10% each week allows your body to build on what it has already done. Many athletes get over confident and will jump from say 10 km in one week to 15 km the following week. Danger zone approaches far too fast in these circumstances.

Action Plan

There might even be times when a gentle 10% increase is too much for you. If that’s the case then don’t worry, you will understand that less is more in your quest to become a great road runner. Set sensible goals for your running and you should be able to avoid significant injury.

The First Signs of Pain

The first time that you feel a pain during running you should take notice. It might appear as something that makes you alter your gait, or a discomfort that worsens during your run. The key here is to take some time off of running, experts suggest 3–4 days. In this “recovery time” you will substitute running with other activities, these might be:

  • Water Training
  • Cycling
  • Light Walking

On the 4th day you should aim to run just 2-3 km distance at around 6 km per minute pace. Assuming all went well then you should reward yourself with a day’s rest, this will allow the muscles to continue to build and prevent an over stress situation.

Now you are ready to get back into your regular routine. Take things easy again and remember you can’t just go straight back into where you left off. It will take a little time to build up. In the event of still feeling pain the it is recommended that you should repeat the rest steps for 3–4 days and go through the cycle again. Continued aggravation and pain from injury will likely lead you needing to head over to a professional sports injury specialist. Look out for part 2, in which we expand a little further on some tips to avoid injury when road running.