Avoiding injury is one of the most important components to getting the best out of your running. Here, muscoloskeletal expert Dr Peter Francis sets out his top seven tips to avoiding time on the sidelines.
Design a variable programme where no two days are the same
The aim of this is to avoid overtraining – running at the same pace every day without rest can lead to the risk of injury. Mix up your days with a range of paces and distances.
Think about the volume of running you can do comfortably and try to do it for 10 weeks
This may seem like too few miles in the early weeks, but this will reap its rewards later in the programme when you increase the chances of picking up niggles. Consistent training is key to improving as a runner
Keep a spreadsheet of your training so you can easily see what you have been doing
This can be online or in old-fashioned notebooks. Write the session down and how you felt at that particular point. If you’re not feeling good during a certain session you can identify that pretty quickly and make adjustments
Engage in some form of strength and conditioning
Many runners skip this option but it is one of the most important things you can do as a runner. Otherwise known as prehab, a well-conditioned runner can stay free of injury much longer than those who choose not to mix up their training.
Incorporate 10-15 minutes of easy barefoot running on grass a couple of times a week
Miles on the road and the track take their toll on tired limbs – grass is a lot kinder. If you’re lucky enough to be close to the sea, a run on the beach is just as good.
At least once a week run as fast as you can, if possible up a hill
This is not just important for avoiding injury, this is useful for all runners looking to improve their times. As you get faster, the body adapts to this change and what seemed like a ridiculously fast pace six months ago will now feel normal.
Make the headspace to run
Allow time in your life to run. Finish work early if you can to give you the chance to get home, get out for a run and do everything you need to do afterwards in good time. Cramming a run into your busy schedule for the sake of it will lead to a bad run which in turn could lead to injury.
DR PETER FRANCIS is the director of the sport and exercise facility at Leeds Beckett University’s School of Clinical and Applied Sciences where he specifically heads up the Musculoskeletal Health Research Group and he’s also a long-distance runner.