Frustrated by constant running injuries? Try these simple fixes…
Studies conducted over a 30 period show that 60 to 66% of runners experience at least one injury per year that stops them from training, so you’re not alone. In this feature I show you five external factors that influence your injury risk and how to control them.
This refers to how hard you run. One scientific study tested runners of similar ability and found that those with ITB Syndrome ran an average of 3 seconds faster per mile in training versus their baseline ability. While it’s good to mix up your intensities, it’s also important not to run hard 100% of the time. Heart rate monitors and pace watches can help you here, especially if you have a set of personal training zones to work from.
One simple way of setting heart rate zones is using the Karvonnen Method. Alternatively you could try the Jack Daniels VDOT method to set your zones.
Once you know your zones, aim to do at least half of your runs entirely in Zone 2 or “Easy Pace”, which is a pace you can maintain comfortably for long periods whilst talking.
When you run on hard surfaces such as concrete, your legs bend more to absorb the shock. When you run on soft surfaces such as sand your legs stay stiffer. Evidence suggests that there is no single terrain or surface that will cure all your injuries, so mix things up by running on pavements one day and trails the next. This variety will stress different parts of your body, rather than over-stressing any particular one.
Several studies have shown an increased injury risk for runners who cover upwards of 40-miles per week, compared to those who cover 10-39 miles. Other studies suggest that your optimal weekly mileage depends more on your experience, training background and ability. Either way, the old adage of “increase your mileage by no more than ten percent per week” is an absolute minimum. Five percent is better.
Several studies indicate that running frequency (the number of runs you do each week) can influence your injury risk. Those who do 6 to 7 runs per week are at greatest risk, whereas another study showed that females who run just once per week are also at a higher risk of injury. There is no “right answer” here, but you can experiment yourself by gradually trying different frequencies until you find the right level for you. If you’re constantly getting sore legs from running, try dropping one run per week. Don’t feel that you always have to run more to improve. Consistency and quality are just as important.
A willingness to invest in yourself is important. If you’re training for a big event or following an ambitious training plan, don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure you do these three things:
- Sign up for a fortnightly sports massage. This can help you identify and target potential injuries before they stop you in their tracks.
- Get a screening from a physiotherapist who specialises in treating runners. They will assess for potential injury risks and then set you a preventative strength and stretching program.
- Take a recovery week, every fourth week. Maintain your regular training regime, but simply do half the total distance of every workout for seven days. This helps maintain your fitness, while giving your body and mind a chance to repair and adapt.
By Phil Mosley.
Triathlon Plus Coaching Editor & Ironman Certified Coach.
Founder of My Pro Coach.Copyright © 2016 Philip Mosley