Eight Ways I Keep Running Injury Free

It’s surprising to me that in four years of running, I haven’t had a major injury that has kept me from running for a significant amount of time (the longest is a couple of days after I slipped on some ice right before Eau Claire Marathon training was starting). And that’s because, as I’ve progressed through my running, I’ve been focusing on things that help keep me injury free.I am following all of them right now!

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Cross Training

I love my cross training days because it allows me to get in a good workout without over-using the same muscles as running. Cross training also helps me focus more on the muscles I don’t use as much while running (such as my upper body) to help create a balance between my muscle groups.

Running Easy

I still need to work on this sometimes but I really try to run easy on my non-speedwork days. It’s hard to hold back but it makes sure I’m not overdoing it and letting my body recover from harder workouts.

Warming Up

Doing dynamic warm ups before a run helps me ease into the harder work of running and also gets my mind thinking about running. Plus it prevents injury by making sure I’m not going from zero to full-throttle and helps me start out with a pace that I can sustain. You can check out my five minute warm up routine on a past post!

Listening to My Body

Listening to my body helps me know when I need to pull back on a run (especially if my form starts feeling sloppy) or if I need to pay special attention to a tight spot. Recently, it’s helped me remember to focus on hip-opening stretches like pigeon pose when my form started feeling really off on a speedwork run.

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Foam Rolling, Stretching and Yoga

All of these help improve flexibility and range of motion along with providing relief to tight muscles. I prefer to do foam rolling after my runs but I make sure I get in some stretching to focus on my hips, along with a yoga session on my rest day.

Varying Running Surfaces

As much as I have my favorite running routes, I try to vary up the surfaces I run on. Softer surfaces like trails or the treadmill can be easier on your body since they absorb the impact more but it’s also important to make sure I’m getting in time on sidewalks and asphalt to prepare my body for races.

Core Strength

So many injuries, including IT band syndrome and knee pain, can prevented by making sure you have a strong core (which includes the hip, glutes, back and abdomen). My cross training days include core strengthening moves and I also try to get in a dedicated core workout one other day during the week. You can check out my favorite core and plank exercises on past posts.

Massage

I really think massages are what helped me get through two cycles of marathon training injury free. They helped reduce muscle pain and tightness that I couldn’t fully take care of on my own while also giving me ways to work on my mobility at home. Plus, they help me take an hour of relaxation I might not have otherwise taken!

How do you prevent injuries from stopping you from running?


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How do I Warm Up for Runs?

Now that I am running more often early in the morning and doing speedwork on these morning runs, I’ve found that my warm up routine is more important than ever. It helps me getting moving easier in the morning (especially important for those 5 a.m. speedwork sessions) and gets my mind thinking about running. Today I’m sharing my quick warm-up routine that takes about five minutes to complete before I start my run.

For each of these moves, I do 15-20 repeats on each side before moving onto the next one. One repeat through this and I’m ready to take on any run!

 

  • Walking Lunges

  • Side Lunges

  • Leg Swings

  • High Knees

  • Butt Kicks

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Warming it up

For most of my running career, I haven't done too much for warming up. If I'm running after work, my "warm up" had been walking about a tenth of a mile to where I was going to start my run. If I was running in the morning, it was a longer walk with Vinnie. But I'm trying to change things up with marathon training because that short walk doesn't really warm up my legs. And with the mileage I'm putting on my legs, even with short runs, I'm feeling that it's even more important to get them nice and warmed up before I hit the sidewalk.

What I decided to do is a combination of dynamic movements, which makes me look super silly but it gets my heart rate up and my legs feeling great. Right now, here's what I do:

  • 20 leg swings (per side)
  • 20 squats
  • 20 high knee marches (per side)
  • 20 glute kicks (per side)

I get some strange stares from people who see me doing this but I'm feeling a lot better when I start out my runs. I used to have tightness in my calves starting out (even once I started being more dedicated post-workout to foam rolling) and I don't feel unless I skip my dynamic warm up.

What do you do to warm up for a run?