Our Top Tips For Avoiding Injury When Running
Posted on 16th November 2022
The last thing you want when training for an event is an injury, especially if it means you must stop training or even pull out of the event after all your hard work.
Hard work is only half of a good performance; the other half is allowing your body to recover. Obviously, you’ll need to ensure you’ve got the right sports kit and training plan, but also that your nutrition, hydration, sleep and muscle care are a priority too. This is the best way to reduce injury and maximise performance. Here are our top tips to help you stay injury free whilst training for a 10k race.
Get the gear right
It might sound silly, but make sure you wear the correct running shoes for your gait and the terrain you run on. If you’re not sure if you’ve got the right shoes, ask for advice at a specialised running store. Prefer barefoot running? This still applies to you! If you’re blessed with a chest, good sports bra is also essential. Always test out your kit and never run an event in brand-new gear!
Build up slowly and use a training plan
It’s important to download a 10k training plan. It’ll keep you focused and a give you a good idea about the distances you should cover each week to smash your 10k race day goal. If a training plan isn’t working for you, adapt or change it, but take care not to increase your running distance too far, too quickly. This’ll cause your body to be fatigued which can increase the risk of injury and mental burnout.
Running coaches refer to the 10% rule - this is where you add 10% to your mileage each week. It might sound small, but a consistent increase will add up quickly, and at the same time, help protect you from injury.
Warm up AND cool down
Research shows that this is important to prevent muscle and ligament damage. Start your run off slowly and always finish with walking and stretching. Stretching should be done immediately at the end of your run when your muscles are still warm as this’ll help prevent injury.
Rest, recovery and sleep
Rest days are as important as training. You’re more injury-prone when fatigued. When you exercise, your body needs time to recover, if you perform another hard workout too soon, you won’t make any progress and could even undo what you’ve achieved. We see a lot of injuries caused by overtraining so it’s about getting the balance right.
Muscles need around 48 hours to recover between workouts, so the day after a long run should be a rest day, a short recovery run, or an alternative workout, such as swimming, Pilates, or yoga. It’s important to get some quality sleep in as this can help you both physically and mentally.
Listen to your body
Don’t run through pain or fatigue. If something starts to hurt, stop what you’re doing. Carrying on could make it worse, and potentially cause you to drop out of your future race. Rest, ice, use compression and elevate the injured body part. If the pain persists, consult your doctor or a sports therapist as quickly as possible.
Nutrition and hydration
Your nutrition is really important when training. Choose fresh fruit and vegetables, quality protein (chicken, fish, lean meat, beans), and wholegrain carbs (bread, rice, pasta). Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated. Ditch junk food, processed food, and alcohol. Before running make sure you are hydrated enough. Choose pre-run food to ensure you have the right energy levels to train, people have their own preferences so it’s worth trying different foods to see what works best for you.
Mix up your training
Don’t just run for your training, but factor in some cross-training too. This will help with stamina and endurance, core strength, flexibility and overall fitness. Activities such as circuits, spinning, swimming and Pilates can all help. Yoga and Pilates are brilliant for runners as it promotes flexibility and mental focus.
Consider strength training or exercise to help build muscle that will protect vulnerable areas prone to injury. For example, if your knees are giving you a problem, consider exercises to help strengthen your knees and also target hips, quads and calf muscles.
Try different terrain
Try running on different surfaces (road, grass, track) to build strength and stability, but also be aware if you normally only train on a treadmill then the impact of road running will feel very different and you may need to change the way you run
Schedule regular sports massages and make the foam roller your best friend
Sports massage should be an essential part of your training plan. It can help you stay healthy and prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. Your therapist can also advise on which areas are tight or ‘vulnerable’ and suggest exercises and stretches to help. This will all help to prevent injuries before they occur.
Before the race
In the final week before your race, have a massage and really concentrate on resting, stretching and nutrition. If you’re booked in with a sports massage therapist they’ll advise you about whether taping would be beneficial.
Post race tips
After the race, it’s important to keep moving by walking around for at least 30 minutes post-race to keep the blood flowing to your muscles and prevent stiffness and cramping. After the cool down walk, focus on stretching, hydrating and refuelling – we recommend a banana and plenty of water.
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