One of the big reasons runners become injured is due to training errors. So, here are some of the most common training errors and how you can adjust them to reduce your risk of injury!
Dramatic changes in mileage and intensity
Increasing the demands of each workout is dependent on your experience and where you are in your training program. Avoid making big leaps of increased mileage and avoid increasing your mileage and intensity of your runs at the same time.
Lack of recovery
After each workout, adaptions are taking place throughout the body and adequate recovery plays a key role. Make sure to re-fuel and re-hydrate following your workout, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and always include a rest day each week.
Hard runs every workout
Utilize the 80/20 rule: 80% of your week is spent on slow, conversational paced runs with 20% spent on hard runs.
Excessive hill training [especially downhill!]
Downhill running has shown to have increased impact and braking force on the body along with an increase in eccentric demand on our muscles. Allow several days following hill workouts or a very hilly course before another hard run. If performing hill repeats, focus more on running uphill but walking downhill to reduce demand.
Lack of strength training
The biggest benefit of lifting is reducing injury risk by increasing the resiliency of your muscles, bones and tendons. After learning proper movement technique with the guidance of a professional, the goal is to lift heavier weight with less repetitions.
Always running on the same side of the road & same direction on the track
This may place more stress on the consistent “inside” leg and cause imbalances over time. Alternate sides of the road, try to run on the sidewalk and try at times to run the opposite direction on the track. Of course, safety and respect for fellow runners always comes first!
Lack of proper warm-up
Warm-Ups prepare our musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, neurological and psychological systems for the work we are about to ask our body to do. Include dynamic movements within 15 minutes to the start of each run!
Long, Slow Distance Run
Benefits = Improves the overall function of your cardiovascular system, increases your fat burning capacity and improves your oxygen transfer and utilization.
Benefits = Improves lactate threshold by helping the body adjust to race pace, utilizes the same muscle recruitment as you use on race day and helps to improve running economy.
Benefits = Improves stroke volume which leads to improved cardiovascular efficiency, improvements in VO2 max and anaerobic metabolism.
Fartleks: “Speed Play”
Benefits = Improvements in VO2 max, lactate threshold, fatigue resistance and running economy.
Benefits = Decreases soreness from previous training sessions and improves cardiovascular system.
Why do we need to warm-up prior to running?
To increase heart rate, respiratory rate and blood flow to our muscles, enhance neurological function and performance, increase psychological preparedness and reduce the risk of injury.
Warm-Ups should be 10-20 minutes total and should end within 15 minutes before the start of your run!
Combine general + specific activities
General activity: Jogging/biking/skipping
Specific activity: Dynamic stretches and movements similar to the demands of the sport
Foam rolling can also be included within your warm-up! Research demonstrates that foam rolling has short-term beneficial effects on joint mobility but must be performed within 10 minutes before the start of your run to experience those effects.
Here are some dynamic examples to get your body ready for your run!
Walking Lunges with Reach
Single Leg RDLs
Walking Calf Raises
With any exercise you choose, increase your speed and your range of motion as you progress through each set or given distance.
The video has been sped up to make it easier to watch all the way through. I would be dizzy if I did neck circles that quickly and there’s no way I can do inch worms that fast!
Here is where we statically stretch! A lot of runners tend to stretch prior to their run, which research has shown can actually negatively impact your performance. Save your stretching for AFTER your run! Get the most bang for your buck by stretching within 5-10 minutes after you finish running.
VO2 Max, Running Economy & Lactate Threshold!
VO2 Max: The maximum amount of oxygen that can be used by your cells in one minute. By improving your body’s transportation system for oxygen, the higher your VO2 max will be. How can you improve your VO2 max? Intervals & Fartleks!
Running Economy: The amount of oxygen you use when running at a certain speed. The less oxygen required at a given speed, the more efficient the system becomes. How can you improve your running economy? Tempo Runs, High-Intensity Intervals, Fartleks!
Lactate Threshold: The intensity of exercise in which lactate begins to accumulate faster than it can be removed. The more your body becomes accustomed to a specific intensity, the more it improves your threshold. How can you improve your lactate threshold? Long Slow Distance Runs, Tempo Runs, Fartleks!
Running at different paces at designated times throughout your training program helps you to appropriately build up your endurance and improve running speed!
The scale used to outline the intensity of each run is RPE: “Rate of Perceived Exertion.” This is a self-evaluating tool to determine how hard you are working. 0 = rest and 10 = maximal exertion.
Conversation Pace: RPE = 5-6
An easy, gentle pace where you can speak in sentences.
Recovery Run: RPE = 4-5
Conversation pace or slower where you can talk in paragraphs.
Tempo Pace: RPE = 7-8
A steady-state, controlled run at a submaximal pace.
Uncomfortable pace that gets more difficult to sustain over longer distances.
Race Pace: RPE = Depends!
Your goal pace for your race distance.
VO2 Max Pace: RPE = 9-10
All-out pace and inability to speak sentences.
One of the most common training mistakes runners make is running too hard and too fast during most of their runs. This leads to fatigue and difficulty during designated hard workouts and ultimately, a plateau in running performance.
It’s been found that most recreational runners split their hard/easy runs 50/50 each week!
THE 80/20 RULE
The belief that about 80% of your training each week should be at an easy, conversation pace with about 20% of your runs at moderate to hard intensity. Studies have demonstrated that whether you are a recreational runner or elite competitor, all runners may benefit from the 80/20 principle.
The Big Take-Away: Running at conversation pace about 80% of your training week allows you to still reap the benefit of improving your aerobic capacity without the added fatigue and increased risk of injury. At the same time, putting in that 20% of moderate to hard running allows you to improve your speed and power with more focus and improved quality to enhance your performance.
What is Periodization?
Periodization is a fancy word to describe a training program in which designated phases or blocks are planned out in a specific order to help you peak at the appropriate time and optimize your performance on race day!
How long should your program be?
Plans can range anywhere from 8 weeks to 8-9 months! The timing and preparation depend on what your goals are and where you are starting from.
A Basic Periodization Break-Down for Runners:
It’s important to note that run programs contain much more detail and structure than what’s listed here and the balance of recovery and strength programming is also a big part of training!
The best way to truly reach your potential is by avoiding cookie cutter programs and having your strengths and weaknesses analyzed by a coach to develop a specific program that best suits you!
What are Intervals?
A type of speed training with designated bouts of running and recovery with a specific distance, speed and time. They are considered a high intensity running workout and are performed to improve speed for runners competing at any distance!
Work:Rest Ratio = 1:1
Your recovery bout is about the same amount of time as the work bout.
The Benefits of Intervals
Intervals for Beginners:
Prior to adding interval training to your program, you want to make sure you have an AEROBIC BASE! You should have a consistent baseline of running AT LEAST 20 miles a week or have already completed 300-500 miles in one year. Intervals should not be performed as an “all-out” exercise until the body becomes more comfortable with incorporating speed work. They should be performed at a pace where you can still say a word or two but hard enough that you are not able to speak full sentences.
How Often to Run Intervals:
Intervals should be performed no more than once per week, maybe twice per week for more experienced runners!
The longer the race distance you are looking to ultimately compete in, the longer the intervals you want to perform.
Always allow adequate recovery for physiological changes to take place. Intervals should not be performed the day after or day before a long run or other high-intensity workout and should not be performed during the week of peak performance.
It’s imperative to properly place interval training in your program to reduce your risk of injury and to maximize your performance!
What is a recovery run?
An “easy” run that is performed at a gentle, conversation pace where you can speak in full sentences. Recovery runs are usually less than 45 minutes in length. They are performed in-between hard running sessions, as a foundational run for beginner runners or runners returning from injury, and/or a way to rack up some extra miles during the week.
What is the purpose of recovery runs?
To flush out “waste” from tired and sore muscles, build up resilience to injury, improve the function of your cardiovascular system and the strength of your heart, increase your fat burning capacity and improve oxygen transfer and utilization.
How are they beneficial?
Recovery runs are extremely beneficial and can sometimes be better than resting and staying stagnant because it helps you to build discipline and patience and trains your body to actively engage when experiencing fatigue. This helps to improve your overall mental toughness, focus on your running form and helps your body to build resilience and strength.
How often should you run them?
It depends! The amount of recovery runs per week is dependent on a runner’s experience, goals and training program. In general, a program may include 2-3 days of short distance recovery running per week but may be more for novice runners.
Your big focus for recovery runs:
When your race season comes to a close, recovery and the post-season begins. It’s imperative to take a break from your run training program to allow your body to rest, recuperate and rebuild for an even better performance for next year’s race season.
Up to 1 Week Post-Season:
1-6 Weeks Post-Season:
Off-Season: Base Training
Pre-Season: Competition Preparation
Post-Season: Active Rest & Recovery
As you set our sights on what’s to come in the upcoming year, you start building your race calendar and start your off-season training.
When setting up your race calendar:
Base Training: Consists of developing and strengthening your cardiovascular fitness. Runs will be of longer duration with lower intensity. Follow the 10% rule when increasing distance of your runs each week.
When to start training programs: