prevent running injuriesStaying injury free with your running is critical if you want to reach your goals.  If you’re injured, you can’t train and if you can’t train, you won’t run achieve your goals.  My marathon training plans incorporate at a minimum, the following 5 steps.  In a separate checklist, I outline in detail 8 things that you can immediately implement to ensure you remain injury free.

1. Rest or decrease your mileage every 3-4 weeks. While training for a race, you should keep track of your weekly mileage.  This is especially important while gradually increasing mileage.  The body needs some rest from the pounding of running to stay injury free. Every 3-4 weeks, depending how strong you are feeling, reduce your mileage for the week. I suggest reducing by 25% for intermediate runners and around 40% for beginners.

2. Remember weekly mileage. No matter how strong you are feeling, it’s not recommended to increase weekly mileage by more than 10% per week. Also, I do not think it’s wise to increase the length of the weekly long run by more than 2-3 miles each week. I’ve made this mistake before when I was training for the Portland Marathon a few years ago.  Sudden mileage increases in excess of 10% each week can increase injury risk. To be able to avoid injuries while you add miles, take an additional day off every 4 weeks. It helps you complete scheduled long runs, but incorporating rest into the week will help your body heal faster.

3. Warm-up at the beginning of training runs. When you start each run or interval session with some light stretching in addition to 4-5 minute jog. You may also transition in to the faster pace with 4 short accelerations/strides. When the legs warm-up, improve your pace gradually. Doing strides and incorporating some jogging or recovery for no more than 30 seconds between sets of 2 x 100m, you will soon have the ability to hit your target pace during track workouts

4. Regularly run fast. This doesn’t mean each time you head out, go fast. Rather, you must regularly complete track and hill work. Should you only do speed work monthly, the body won’t get used to faster running. One speed workout each week will help you get faster and get in better shape, injury free. Don’t forget, whenever you do speed work, always warm-up first.

5. Staying injury free can best be accomplished by stretching right after runs. Stretching right after a run, when your muscles are warm, can help combat all the contractions you have with each and every step. Following a high exertion effort, try to avoid stretching intensely. Stretching a tired muscle an excessive amount could tear muscle tissue and basically increase the time to recover. After hard workouts I recommend that you stretch lightly.