You’re halfway through your running season. Things are finally falling into place, and you’re feeling dialed in as you head into your next race. Then, the unthinkable happens: After ending an intense training run with a nagging pain in your foot, you’re diagnosed with a stress fracture. As you scroll through social media while laid up on the couch, you can’t help but feel like other runners are immune to season-disrupting injuries. What’s their secret?
Unfortunately, there’s not a magic training formula that will keep you injury-free. But there are things you can do to prevent running injuries and cultivate a resilient body—one that keeps coming back season after season.
Here are four things you can do to prevent running injuries.
Follow a customized training plan
Starting any difficult physical activity is extremely hard. Sticking to it day after day is even more challenging. There will always be excuses that sway you from getting out the door, such as the weather, aches and pains, or a lack of time. A training plan is critical to staying on track.
Your training plan should specify the type of run or rest you need to do each day. It doesn’t need to be fancy or full of insane workouts. It only needs to be a concrete schedule that solidifies your intentions for each day of training. That said, it should also consider what your body needs in order to stay moving, so you can truly build resiliency.
Physical strength is essential
Did you know the stressors placed on your body affect the way it grows? We need strength to protect our bodies from the repetitive movements caused by running as well as those of everyday life. Most jobs today require long periods of static postures. These can put muscles in compromised positions, cultivating weakness instead of resiliency.
The good news is, strength training doesn’t require you to pull your car down the street. It can be as simple as home workouts that use your body’s own weight as resistance. Countless studies have shown that runners who engage in strength training can improve not only their running performance but also the overall health of their bones, joints, and cartilage.
Need ideas? Check out our strength training e-book for a program you can do at home.
Incorporate mobility movements
Runners have notoriously tight muscles. We’ve even been known to pride ourselves on our stiffness after a long run. But a lack of mobility over time can lead to all sorts of aches and pains. And that’s nothing to celebrate.
To keep your muscles and joints fully moving, it’s important to incorporate mobility movements into your training plan. Foam rolling and stretching are great ones to start with. These seemingly simple movements—when done consistently—can help you prevent pain in future workouts. If the unthinkable were to occur, they can help you recover more quickly.
Consistency is key
Preventing injury is all about doing the little things, over and over again. So, make this season the one in which you follow a plan, get in the gym, and work on your mobility deficits. Everyone has the potential to achieve a resilient body. It just takes some work to get there.