As we are all sitting at home and following our social distancing instructions, us runners have more time than ever to train and think about races. In fact, we have seen more people out running during this time than normal. Whether you are a veteran runner and have done countless races and logged mile after mile, or if you are a newbie that has picked up running because all of the gyms are closed, this blog series is for you! Over the next several weeks, we are going to dive into the Top 5 running injuries we see in our clinic. We are going to break it down and explain why these happen, how to prevent them, and how to treat them if they’ve already gotten you.
For the vast majority of cases with running injuries, they come from an overuse pattern. Of course, there are exceptions, but most of our athletes fall prey to these injuries from overuse. But how do we define overuse? That is a challenging question! I have some patients who can easily handle 70 to 80 miles per week with no major breakdown. Unfortunately, most of us are not able to handle this sort of volume. And that is alright! Knowing your body’s limit is a vital part of being an athlete. In general, I define overuse injury at the point where increase in mileage corresponds with an exponential increase in recovery time or injury occurrence.
As you can see in the graph above, this athlete has a definite mileage that when she goes above it, her injury risk drastically increases. Pay no mind to the actual mileage values here, because as we have discussed earlier, this is a different number for everyone. As a new runner, this can be very frustrating because you don’t have enough data to know when your body has had enough! As an experienced runner, you may have more data points to know when you hit your limit, but you may not have the discipline to stop when you need to.
So, what if you don’t know your limits? Well, an easy way to manage your mileage is to not increase more than 10-15% of your total volume per week, and to not increase your long run more than half a mile at a time. Now you may be realizing that this means your progress will likely be very slow if you are starting from low mileage. That’s precisely the point! Let’s look at an example:
As you can see, this is a slow progression over a period of 6 weeks. You must also understand that some people cannot handle even 15% increases week over week, so you may need to do only 10%! That is alright. We can always make up mileage later, but if you get injured along the way, it will be a much harder road for you.
Rest and Recovery
Have you ever heard that you get stronger and faster on days that you aren’t training? It’s true. Your rest days become more important than ever as you are increasing your volume or intensity. Your body needs time to recover, lay down new muscle, and get faster. Don’t sacrifice rest days just because we are getting stir-crazy in the house! Use that time to do something different, like strength training, yoga, or cycling. Just be sure that a recovery day is actually about recovery and not going hard in a different way. Your intensity should be low! Plan on factoring in a rest day every other day when you are new to running, and 1-2x/week when you are more experienced.
If you’ve been around our blog for any time at all you know that I am endlessly harping on strength training for runners. Most runners hate a barbell and run from a kettlebell. Don’t let that be you! Running will make you faster, stronger, and more efficient. Strength training keeps you running. Check out some of our previous posts here, here,
So now we have reviewed some basic principles to make sure you aren’t overtraining. But what are the Top 5 running injuries I talked about earlier? Here they are, in no particular order:
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome
- Achilles & Posterior Tibialis Pain
- Plantar Fasciitis
- High Hamstring Pain
Stay tuned each week for a review of each injury and how to keep yourself running!
Thanks for reading,
P.S. If you are currently dealing with a running injury and want to get help fast, we are offering Telehealth appointments for new and existing patients! Call us at 770-842-1418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!