Tuesday, May 18th, 2010...12:02 PM

10 Tips for Injury-Free Running

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Running is one of the most popular cardiovascular exercises. It’s relatively simple, requires very little equipment, and can be done almost anywhere. The downside is that running is also a high-impact activity that is more likely than other activities to lead to injury. So how do marathon runners avoid injury? This guest post was written by one of my best friends who also happens to be an ultra-marathon runner.

by Marla Hernandez

Here are my favorite tips for getting the most out of your running training and staying injury free.

#1 Cross train. Cross training will help you maintain your cardiovascular fitness, keep your entire body strong, and give your joints a break. I ride the bike, swim, and do the elliptical, as well as run.

#2 Lift weights. Protect your joints by keeping the muscles surrounding them strong. I lift heavy enough weights for 6-8 reps to keep my muscles strong. Don’t forget to stretch afterward.

#3 Don’t diet. In order to run strong, you have to fuel your body and eat. If you are lethargic, your form will suffer and injuries can occur. I always have a light snack (banana and pretzels) before a run, and it gives me much needed energy. Enjoy foods that will nourish the joints-foods high in omega 3’s (fish, flax, walnuts) and good fats (olive oil, avocados) as well as whole grains and quality protein.

#4 Take it off road. Run less on hard surfaces and more on trails, beaches, grass, or even the treadmill for more shock absorption.

#5 Fuel up afterward. Eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes after a run to replenish the body. Studies show that chocolate milk has the perfect combination of carbs and protein for muscle recovery.

#6 Employ the hard/easy rule. If you run hard one day, take it easy the next, or run every other day. This will give your body much needed rest so that you can train hard on the days you do run.

#7 Keep your core strong. Work your core muscles (abs, obliques, and lower back) often for more efficient running. I love exercises on the ball or simply holding the plank position.

#8 Sleep. Sleep at least 8 hours per night. Remember, the more you run, the longer you need to sleep at night in order to repair the body. I find when I am running a lot, I need 9+ hours of sleep.

#9 Get the right shoe. Find a running store that will help you get the proper running shoe for your foot type. I had a lot of injuries when I just bought shoes off the sale rack. Finding a running store that helped me get the proper shoe has worked wonders!

#10 Take a few days off at the first sign of pain. I learned this rule the hard way. Running through pain caused me to have 3 different stress fractures. If the pain continues, seek medical attention.

About the Author:

Marla Hernandez is a 36-year-old special education teacher. She began running just 5 years ago and quickly fell in love with it. Since then, she has run 14 Ultra-Marathons (anything longer than 26.2 miles), including three 50 mile races and a 100K. She currently runs 40 miles per week and cross trains 7 days per week.

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1 Comment

  • Brigitte Morgan-Styers
    May 18th, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Great article. I will be referring back to this and sharing it with my husband. Thanks, Marla!

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