Preventing Running Injuries
The key to avoiding injury when training for a race whether it is a 10 K race or half marathon or a marathon is preparation. Stress injuries and stress fractures are some of the most common injuries that are seen when training for a long-distance race. These are typically caused by improper preparation.
If you are a new runner, the recommendation is to start running 2 miles 2-3 times a week and increasing your weekly mileage 10% a week. It is important to remember that it is all about total miles per week, whether it is walking or running.
Walking at your job, walking in your neighborhood, walking during shopping trips, camping or hiking counts toward weekly mileage, so add this to your running mileage. Keeping track of your weekly running/walking mileage is critical to avoid an overuse injury.
Exercise that does not count toward mileage includes swimming, biking, elliptical trainer, rollerblading, skiing and rowing machine.
The Myth of No Pain-No Gain
As a group, runners tend to want to run no matter what. Pain is a very accurate indicator of how things are going. I tell runners they are allowed to have a little bit of discomfort with a long run, but not too much. If you start to feel pain, you need to back off from running. Following the "no pain no gain" mantra is a recipe for trouble. If a runner starts feeling pain in his shin, for example, he really should take a couple of days off until he feels better. If the pain is gone then he can proceed with his training regimen. However, if pain persists after a week or more, then that runner needs to be seen by a physician.
Shoe wear is also very important. Shoes have a lifespan of 300 to 400 miles before they are worn out. I tell runners to write the purchase date on their shoes so they can keep track of shoe mileage. It is also important to understand that running shoes are made for running, they are not made for walking, working out, or doing anything else. Saving running shoes for running makes it easy to determine how many miles the shoes have. If you are doing other activities in the shoes, it makes it difficult to determine the shoes’ mileage.
Ben Kittredge, MD, specializes in running injuries and practices out of our Alexandria and Springfield offices.