I’ll say from the start that it’s impossible to entirely eliminate the risk of injury.
But there are steps you can take to minimise your risk.
On the one hand you can argue that human beings are designed to run.
But on the other hand we’re not designed to sit in a chair all day… and then go out and run.
Spend enough time in a chair and your body will physically change: some muscles will get tight whilst others will weaken.
Not a problem if you’re just doing a lot of sitting (apart from a strong likelihood of backache) but if you want to do anything physical – running, for example – then there could be challenges ahead.
Few of us are biomechanically bulletproof, which means that it’s important to approach our training with caution.
For years I’ve spoken of the benefits of just running 3 days a week, and combining a few simple strength conditioning exercises on 1 or 2 of the other days.
Because this seems to be the sweet spot for most (non-professional) runners.
And since I’ve been doing my Endure24 training I’ve stripped that right back to just 1 run a week.
Not just because I believe that 1 is all I need for optimum gains in fitness.
But because for me, the benefits of doing additional sessions will be more than cancelled out by the increased fatigue & risk of injury.
Yesterday I did a 20 miler with 5 painful blocks of 9 minutes at threshold in the middle.
And I could feel every one of the 26 miles that I ran last weekend.
Heavy legs, and struggling to get my pace down to where it usually is…
But no aches & pains or niggles. In fact despite the heavy legs I felt pretty flippin’ fantastic.
Throw another mid-week run into the mix things could have been completely different.
That’s not going to be the same for everybody.
Some runners can quite happily go out every day and never get niggles.
But that would kill me off (plus I’d get bored pretty soon!)
I find the results I get from 1 run a week (and 2 or 3 sessions in the gym or Boot Camp) to be satisfactory, and the risk of injury is minimal.
The perfect balance.
All of my programs (i10 Project, iHalf & iMarathon) are all based on 3 runs a week.
Some runners find that they benefit from a 4th run and that’s cool.
It’s just that most people will get awesome results from just 3 (as long as they’re the right ones).
The only thing more important than hitting your peak fitness in time for a race is getting to the start line in the first place.
I see too many runners smash out their training only to pick up an injury 3 or 4 weeks before the Big Day.
Very frustrating, and to an extent avoidable.
So in summary, here are 4 things you can do to minimise your risk of injury:
1) Reassess your training volume & frequency and remember that ‘more running’ is rarely the answer to getting faster
2) Include regular body conditioning work into your weekly routine
3) Take the easy wins wherever you can (KT Tape, compression socks, pre-run prep routine etc.)
4) Get your recovery nutrition right
Annoyingly, injuries don’t happen immediately.
It might take a few weeks or months of ignoring the basics before your body starts to break down.
Which makes it more challenging – though not impossible – to stay injury-free and happily enjoying your runs.
Hundreds of runners have used the iRunning programs to finally get some real structure to their training.
There’s no guarantee that anything will keep you off the physio couch, but finding a program that’s going to deliver you fantastic results whilst reducing your risk is a good starting point.