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Friday, September 5, 2014

My top 5 tips for distance runners to avoid injuries

You are training for a marathon or your first 5k. Or maybe you are triathlete trying to improve your run time. Perhaps you are competitive high school of collegiate runner. Maybe even you are adding running to your workout routine to help you get fit or to help shed body fat.

It doesn't matter WHY you are running. Chances are you have been injured.

Injuries range from minor setback to major issues that requite months of rehab or perhaps surgery.

How do you avoid getting injured?

Truth be told it is VERY hard to completely avoid being hurt. It's part of running for sure. In all the years that I have been running I have beenf injured BUT I have been blessed to say not very often.

Today's post will help you if you are hoping to stay injury free.

TIP #1: Proper warm up. A proper warm-up involves you getting out of breath and getting your joints lubricated. I like to do squats and some push-ups to go with a 5-10 minute easy run. I will also throw in a couple of "striders" or "accelerations" to get my body running a little quicker.

This is a great warm up for a race. What about a normal run? To help prevent injuries you should run for a short period of time, like 5-10 minutes, then walk for a spell before you hit your normal pace. If you are a "slower" runner who does 12-15+ minute per mile then this can be a walk to get the blood flowing. Another way to get warmed up is to do some squats of jumping jacks before you head out the door.

Regardless of how you do it, you shouldn't just run out the door at your regular running pace. Ease into it!

TIP #2: Run on trails. Sometimes people will tell me that they don't run on trails because they don't want to get hurt. This, my friends, is precisely WHY we run on trails. Running on soft and uneven surfaces keeps you alert and it makes you lower extremities work harder and thus get stronger.

Here is a video that I recorded a few months ago on the benefits of trail running.

Don't you think strong ankles, knees and hips will help you stay injury free? You bet!

I believe that you should do 1/3 to 1/2 of your training on a soft surface. Trails are awesome but running in the grass on the side of the road is also a good idea.

TIP #3: Fuel you body! I don't know about you but I think this is the most important one. If your car runs out of gas you don't blame the gauge do you?

No. That's silly. But we, as runners, get hurt and we try to blame our shoes or our flexibility or the pace or something crazy like that.

Why should our high performance vehicles (us) perform properly without the right fuel?

What to eat is another topic for another day. Just understand that you need to have fuel for the fire. You need to have the right micro-nutrients (supplements help for sure), macro-nutrients (focus on QUALITY and not quantity) and water.

If you are in the habit of running without proper nourishment then you may be causing your injuries with that decision.

TIP #4: Do functional workouts. I am a VERY big fan of not just running. I am a fan of cross training and working out at the gym.

I will also say that I am not a big fan of traditional weight lifting and stretching. (More on that later)

So if you interpret "functional workouts" as the leg extension, inner/outer thigh machine or bench press then you are missing the definition of functional training.

For the most part functional routines keep your feet on the floor and focus on building strength through the core. Examples of exercises are: kettlebell swings, thrusters, burpees, push-ups, standing row, bar push-press, cleans, dead-lifts...etc.

Don't get me wrong. I don't advocate that distance runners become power lifters or CrossFit fanatics. I just think that it is important that runners add some functional resistance training to their routines. I would keep it simple. Do 2-3 workouts per week that have some intensity and last 15-30 minutes. I would get with a coach or spend some time in front of YouTube to get these exercises dialed in the right way.

In case you are wondering CrossFit workouts for the most part fit this bill. Doing CrossFit full time probably won't help your running a whole bunch. If you do CrossFit don't try to up your max lifts. Keep everything that you do below your body weight.

TIP #5: Balance your endurance workouts. One thing I have learned over the years is that as I add mileage to my running I tend to get burned out, sick or injured. Don't take this as gospel for everybody but I don't like high mileage training for anybody.

It's a law of diminishing returns in my eyes. The change of getting sidelined with sickness and injury increases exponential with the addition on miles over 40 per week.

I am a huge fan of supplementing running mile in the pool or on a bike. Instead of another hour long run add a 2 hour bike or a 45 minute swim. You will still get a workout and give your running muscles a little break.

So there you have it. My top 5 tips for avoiding injuries as a runner....

Wait. Is there something missing?

Of course. It's the top 5 ways not ALL OF THEM. Will having good shoes help? Sure. Does stretching prevent injuries? The jury is still out on that one. Some say it does and some say it doesn't.

Personally I think that stretching after you run isn't a bad thing but it doesn't help prevent injuries.

Another thing that will help you is chiropractic care and massage.

Look at that! You got 9 tips for the price of 5!

Are you curious about supplementation for runner? I recorded a quick video a while back that may help you. Check it out and email me with questions: (

Did you find value in this short post? If so please share with your friends. They may find some value as well! 

Have a great weekend! 

To your success!
 Rick Copley | Your Best Fitness Coach  | "Empowering YOU to be a champion" 
Your Best Fitness Coach Facebook Page |Instagram: @rickcopley 
352-989-6795 |

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