How to Avoid the Beginning Runners Injury Bug
By Rick Morris
Running injuries happen to all distance runners; there’s just no way to completely avoid all distance running injuries. The repetitive motion of thousands upon thousands of running strides can take its toll on even the most efficient runners. The distance running bug is an especially nasty pest for beginning runners because of the generally lower levels of strength and fitness of most newbie runners. Just because you are a new runner, it doesn’t mean you can’t minimize your risk of suffering from a distance running injury. Here are just a few steps you can take to avoid the injury bug.
The first and most important step to take in avoiding newbie running injuries is to avoid falling into poor running form habits. Nearly all new runners make mistakes in their running mechanics. Those poor mechanics eventually turn into poor running form habits and result in injuries. So start with proper mechanics and avoid the poor form habits to begin with.
Strength training is often ignored by both new and experienced runners. You don’t need to hit the gym for hours per day or go for the body builder look. You just need to do some running specific body weight strength exercises. Stronger, more resilient muscles are not only more efficient, but are also more injury resistant.
While running conditioning is the third most important phase for a beginning runner, you can actually begin your conditioning concurrently with your strength training. In fact, strength training is an important part of conditioning for a distance runner. Strength training is an excellent type of cross training for distance runners. Begin your conditioning with mostly endurance running or running at a easy to moderate pace. Once you are able to run 2 miles without stopping, it’s time to expand your training and increase your fitness with more intense training runs such as tempo runs, lactate threshold training and some beginning interval training.
Of course you always need to train smart to avoid injuries. Make all increases in distance and intensity gradually. You need to let your body and mind gradually adapt to the new stresses you are placing on them. Also be sure to include sufficient rest periods. Many new runners are excited and enthusiastic about their new running life and tend to go at it too hard. While that may be commendable, it can also result in physical injury and mental burnout.