As you probably know, I identify as a runner despite not having participated in a long distance race in a couple of years. I’ve run several half marathons and a marathon and running is how I got into fitness way back when (at 12, in case you were wondering). But now, at almost 31 I’m looking towards my running future and figuring out how I can do it for the rest of my life.
Most runners suffer some sort of injury. Common ones you may have experiences are: pulled muscles (hamstrings are especially vulnerable), stress fractures, IT band issues, and various forms of knee pain.
I’ve been lucky and my injuries have been small and not enough to truly sideline me for more than a week, but I don’t want to be beating up on my body when I don’t have to. I just want to run several miles a week because it makes me feel good, it clears my head, and my body is its leanest and meanest self when I’m in running shape.
So what am I doing to be able to run injury free for life? Check out my list below:
1. Educating Myself
There are a lot of really brilliant people out there who have studied and researched running, injuries, and how to best move your body. I’ve started with the book “Ready to Run” by Kelly Starrett and it’s been eye opening! Even if you have some amazingly talented runner friends, nothing beats true science and experience with more than body.
2. Stretching and Rolling
I have known about stretching and rolling for a while now. Every workout DVD I’ve ever completed has a warmup and cooldown stretch, but on my own I always avoided them. Not anymore! It is about keeping my muscles and connective tissues healthy and a couple of minutes before and after a run is worth it.
3. Warming up
Besides my days as a member of the track team in high school, warm ups have never been a part of my routine. Who needs to warm up? It’s just running. The answer is, everyone! My runs and other workouts feel SO MUCH better when I warm up. It’s incredible what a few minutes of warmup can do.
4. Listening to my Body
I used to push myself, continue running even with some pain, and assume I’d just recover later. Not anymore. If I feel pain anywhere I will stop and do some stretches and then focus on my form when I start running again. If it doesn’t improve, the run is over. It’s not worth it to get injured on an easy run when it may derail me from a future race or any future running.
I was freaked out by the idea of some stranger touching me for the longest time, but then I got a massage when pain in my shoulder started inhibiting my ability to workout. It’s amazing what massage can do that rolling and stretching can’t! And I continue to learn so much from the massage therapists I go to. Just like a trainer can help with movement patterns, massage therapists can help you identify areas of tension and what muscles need regular work.
No matter where you are in your life as a runner, I encourage you to work on all of the above, little by little, to help keep you healthy and happy for years to come! If we can avoid injury in the first place, we really should do all that we can to make that happen.
What has helped you stay injury free or helped you feel your best when coming back from an injury?
lover of fitness, sweets, veggies, adventure, travel, and feeling confident.
If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done. - Thomas Jefferson