A friend once recommended that I write about injury prevention in running. Was he talking to me? Little Miss perennially injured Bullheaded Runner? I thought that I could easily dictate the ways to do the opposite—how to get injured—because of all the mistakes I committed in my brief running experience.
Here are 10 easy ways to find yourself in the doctor’s clinic:
- Buy a running shoe based on its color and look. A doctor once asked me why I did not purchase the shoe he had recommended months ago for my flat feet, I replied “Because it didn’t look good.” His response “Vanity thy name is injury!”
- Live in denial. Your shins are sore. Your knee is throbbing. You’ve been feeling exhausted and tired. Yet, you tell yourself that nothing is wrong and you lace up your shoes for yet another run or race. Listen to your body and take a few days off if you must.
- Don’t stretch. There’s still an ongoing debate over the importance of stretching. However, I personally think that stretching after a warm up, such as a 5-minute walk, and after a run will help loosen up any tightness in the legs.
- Don’t do anything else but run. Again, some runners may not agree with this. But, I do believe in the importance of strength and cross training to work the muscles that aren’t used in running. It is important to strengthen your core, quads, and shins to prevent injury.
- Increase mileage drastically. You doubled your mileage from last week? Hey, that’s great—if you want to get injured. You should increase mileage only by 10% every week. If you feel you can do more, don’t. Stay on the conservative side.
- Go fast. For beginners, some experts do not recommend that you focus on speed immediately. (I know, some of you may not agree!) I believe it’s important to build your base through LSD (long slow distance) before you attempt to win races. Boy, am I guilty of this one and have I suffered for it. I was humbled when I read this great article about adult-onset athletes, I think it was written with the old, naive, and overzealous me in mind. (Thanks Idnod for sharing!)
- Join all races. Have you noticed the popularity of races around the metro lately? There’s a race almost every week! Do not attempt to break your PR in every single race. Choose specific races and train for them well. If you must join every single race, then run some of them at training pace.
- Drink only when you’re thirsty. Never underestimate the power of liquids in running. It can make or break your run. Make sure you are well-hydrated at all times. If your weight drops drastically after a run, drink more liquids to compensate that water weight loss.
- Lessen your food intake. Some people fall into running as a means to lose weight. As the pounds drop, the greater the desire to speed up the weight loss by decreasing food intake. As a runner, you will need to fuel your body with the right foods to ensure that your body can cope with the intense activities. Eat up, I promise you that running will burn them calories!
- Think you are invincible. Most people don’t give a damn about injuries—until it happens to them. Be aware of ways to prevent injuries (and practice them) in order to enjoy a fun-filled, non-stop, and pain-free running life.