How to Avoid Injury
“The key to turning running into a healthy lifestyle change is enjoyment,” says Mick Larrabee, a physical therapist and strength and conditioning coach in Knoxville. “Let’s face it: if running hurts, then you’re not going to do it.”
Here are Larrabee’s tips for avoiding injury when training for your first big race.
Start slow Begin with some base mileage and run at least four to five times a week on “easy runs”. This will get the body used to the repetitive pounding associated with distance running. Total mileage should slowly increase but by no more than 10 percent per week.
Be flexible and strong Work on flexibility in the calves and hip flexors especially. It’s also critical to strengthen the muscles of the hip and core. Squats, lunges, step ups, bridges, planks, and lateral band walks will help strengthen key muscle groups. Hill training also builds run-specific strength.
Rest (for real) Listen to your body and take a day off if/when needed. Never try to tough it out and run through an injury. Sometimes the best way to keep moving forward is to take a step backward and rest/recover.
Go to the video Video gait analysis can be tremendously helpful in improving running mechanics and can improve performance while minimizing injury potential.
Ask the Expert: Is running really bad for my knees?
There is no research that indicates a correlation between running and osteoarthritis. There are factors that do contribute to joint problems. Genetics influences the actual shape and structure of the bone and joint. Poor mechanics, which could be influenced by muscular imbalances, can lead to injury. Obesity certainly puts unnecessary stress on the joints.
Of course knee injuries do occur in runners, but there has been plenty of research looking at runners’ knees vs. non-runners’ knees over a given time period, and all of that research indicates that there’s no difference between a runner’s knee and non-runner’s knee.
—Scott Murr, director of Furman University’s Institute of Running and Scientific Training
If you start training now, you can be in primo running shape for one of these fall half marathons:
Rock n Roll Savannah Half
Savannah, Ga. Nov. 5
Live bands, trees draped in Spanish moss, and Southern hospitality (aka cocktails) help you through 13.1.
Amish Country Half
Lancaster, Pa. Nov. 5
It’s far more peaceful to be passed by a horse and buggy on a road run than an SUV.
Richmond, Va. Nov. 12
Historic neighborhoods, party zones, and junk food stations make this half a Southern classic.
Thunder Road Half
Charlotte, N.C. Nov. 12
Charlotte’s biggest race has been bumped up a month. Same great course, better weather.
Secret City Half
Oak Ridge, Tenn. Nov. 20
Lots of greenway miles on this fast, flat, and scenic course.
Atlanta, Ga. Nov. 24
You’ll hit the big sites in downtown Atlanta (Centennial Olympic Park, Atlantic Station, Piedmont Park) while working off the turkey you’ll eat later in the day.