You took up running to get in shape and lose weight. You enjoy the activity and look forward to each run. But now you’re running into trouble. You’ve recently started feeling steady tinges on your left shin. And they’re turning into pain. Or your knee has been feeling funny. And now it throbs after each run.
It’s possible you’re suffering from an injury. If you’re new to running, this may seem like a shock. But veteran runners know that new runners often fall prey to “too much, too fast” injuries. What are they and how can you avoid getting hurt?
Too much, too fast injuries are those caused by runners who take on high speeds or long distances before they’re ready for it. You need to establish a solid running base - several months of consistent training - before you can reach for substantial distances or speeds. This may not sound like fun to new runners, but it is essential for staying safe and avoid unnecessary injuries.
The key is to take it slow, especially during the first few months that you take up running. Don’t push too hard, even if it feels good in the moment. It’s too easy to get excited because you’re feeling a runner’s high. Or you’re enjoying some motivating music. But the bad news is you’re putting excessive stress on your body that could lead to a stress fracture or similar injury.
Your training should not be a steady incline of more, faster, longer, harder. Instead, your training runs should ebb and flow, becoming harder and then backing off to allow for recovery.
Your body needs less lulls in training to recover and become accustomed to your new running routine. Without them, you can expect injuries.
You also need to supply your body with essential nutrients. Boost your protein intake with whey protein. It's a good way to supplement your diet.
You may feel like a machine, but you decidedly are not. You need recovery time. You need rest days. And you also need…
There’s more to life than running. It may not seem that way if you’ve just got the bug and are loving every run. But you need to balance your efforts with strength training. Why?
Safe, injury-free running requires the consistent interaction of many muscle groups. It’s not just your legs and feet.
Your glutes and core need to stabilize you. Your calves must power you while also absorbing the impact of each stride. Your hips must keep your entire body balanced and in line.
There’s a lot going on with each step.
This is where strength training and cross training come in. Work out your core to stabilize your body and prevent imbalances in your knees and hips. Strengthen your calves to prevent foot and ankle injuries. You need your entire body to work together if you want to stay injury-free.
Beginner runners don’t usually have the appreciation for stretching that veterans do. They come home from a run, shower, have something to eat, and never give another thought to stretching. But it can come back to haunt them in the form of injury.
Stretch out your muscle after each run to prevent injury. Tight muscles and joints lead to imbalances and unnecessary problems. You don’t need to do a 30 minute stretch-a-thon. Just five minutes of dynamic stretching - lunges, squats, leg raises, and hamstring stretches - will make a big difference.
New to running? Great. You will learn to love your body’s strength and endurance as you develop your running abilities. But take it easy at first. Build a solid running base by slowly ramping up your mileage.
Don’t forget to take rest days and to build recovery into your training program. With patience and care, you can become a skilled runner and have the joy of staying injury-free.