5 Reasons I've Never Had a Running Injury

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/27/2011 6:00 AM   :  68 comments   :  56,659 Views

This is the year of running for me. I ran my first half marathon this spring and will complete my third one this fall. I've reached new trail running goals, including a first and second place finish in recent races. In August, 11 other teammates and I will run the Hood To Coast relay, covering 200 miles in less than 36 hours. I've done fun runs, too, like the Krispy Kreme Challenge and the Warrior Dash. I'm loving every minute of this run-filled year, from the training to the races. The worst thing that could happen to me now is to be sidelined by an injury.

Yet it seems that every runner I know has dealt with a running related injury. There are lots of reasons why running can lead to injury, but I do believe is that you can avoid and prevent most running injuries if you train smart and set realistic goals. That is exactly how I've avoided injury despite increasing my mileage and speed and taking on greater challenges. It's not about luck—it's about leading with your noggin instead of your legs.

If you have goals of becoming a runner, completing a marathon, racing your way into smaller jeans, or even finishing that first 5K, this is a must-read for you. Here are the five training tips that have kept me running injury-free for years.

My 5 Rules for Running Injury-Free

Just Because You CAN Do Something Doesn't Mean You Should.
The last thing I like to hear is that a person who has essentially never ran is planning to run a half or full marathon in a matter of months. This is an injury waiting to happen, not to mention that it simply isn't safe or advisable for an inexperienced runner. I know that it seems as if everyone these days is running a marathon. And I know there are training plans that promise to take you from unfit to running 26.2 miles in four months. But just because you can do something does not mean you should. Seriously. Just because people can run that distance with very little training doesn’t mean it's good for their bodies. I firmly believe that one should only train for a marathon after several years of running. But even then, I don't personally believe that it's a healthy goal for every runner. An event like that (and the training it entails) is extremely taxing on the body. Plus, there is plenty of evidence that people who train for long endurance events can run into a host of problems that an average exerciser is unlikely to encounter: increased injury risk of overtraining, heart problems (in the most extreme cases), a weakened immune system, amenorrhea, stress fractures and more.

I ran for more than two years before I ever attempted a half marathon. And I have no plans to ever run a full marathon because I don't believe that it's healthy for my body, even if my body might be capable of it.

If It's Not Broken, Don't Fix It
Like everyone else, I read and adored Chris McDougall's book Born To Run, and was totally ready to hop on the barefoot running bandwagon after doing so. When I visited my local running store to try on some minimalist running shoes, I stopped myself before checking out. Sure, there may be some good theories and even some evidence that minimalist shoes or barefoot exercise may be better for us. But I'd also never been injured or hurt by wearing my cushy motion-controlled running shoes either. For all I know, my running shoes are absolutely perfect for me and switching to something else—no matter how highly touted—could be the start of problems. I decided that if it isn't broken, I'm not going to fix it. I'm sticking with my tried-and-true shoes until they no longer work for me. Then—and only then—will I change things up. (The respected ACE fitness organization agrees. After studying the effects of barefoot, Vibram (barefoot running) shoes, and traditional running shoes on recreational joggers, they advise, "If you aren’t experiencing chronic injuries while running, don’t quit with your [usual] shoes just yet")
 
(Side note: Getting a good pair of running shoes and replacing them before they get too worn out is another way to help decrease injury risk. I track the mileage I run in my shoes and replace them around 500 miles, which seems to work best for me. I also never wear them for any purpose other than running.)
 
The same thing applies to your training plan. Remember that what works for others might not work for you. If you run three times a week but then see a cool new training plan that says you should be running five days, stop and think a minute. Are two extra days really necessary? Can you achieve the same goals with your current frequency? Many half marathon training plans I saw recommended running four to six days per week. No, thanks! I still only run three times per week and I had no trouble crossing that finish line after training three days per week. As Coach Nancy always says, "We are all an experiment of one." When you find something that works for you, stick with it!

Don't Run Every Day
You probably know some old man or woman who runs five miles every morning and has been doing so for the past 60 years. But let me tell you, they are the exception to the rule. Yes, I think running in general can be good for your body. But like all good things, more isn't always better, and moderation is usually best. Running is a high-impact exercise, too much of which can be bad for the joints.

Even though I exercise or do something active pretty much every day, I never run more than four times a week, and I rarely run on two consecutive days. Most often, I run just three times per week. On the other days, I cross-train with low-impact exercises (like biking or Spinning) to help balance out my workouts. I also fit in core work like Pilates, and strength-training so that I'm helping achieve a balanced physique—not one that only runs. Doing too much of any one thing can cause imbalance and injury. Even runners need days off.

Be a Careful and Conservative Runner
I believe this is the number one reason I have never been injured. I'm conservative in my goals, in how much I run, and in my approach to running.

Let me put into perspective how I went from running a 5K to running a half marathon—and more importantly, the amount of time I allowed myself to train.
In spring 2008, I started running 1-2 times a week for about 30 minutes at a time. I already had a base level of aerobic fitness from other workouts, so running this distance was OK for me. I ran my first 5K (3.1 miles) in October 2008, but didn't do my second one until a year later.

That's right; I spent more than a year just acclimating to running, usually no more than 4-5 miles per workout. After about 18 months of running consistently, I trained for a 10K, ran a 15K a few months later, then finished a 10.6-mile race a few months after that. I ran my first half marathon almost two and a half years after I ran that first 5K—not four months later or even six months later. This is conservative training. It allows your body to really acclimate to running and the increased mileage versus trying to rush the process, which is what causes problems. Week to week and month to month, I still take a conservative approach to increasing mileage. I never run more than 5-10% further than the previous weeks, even if my body seems like it can handle it.

In addition, I'm careful as I run. I run outdoors all winter long (albeit very slowly). The only time I head indoors is when it's icy or the temperature is in the single digits. When I run on trails, I slow my speed dramatically so that I feel sure of my footing. I also wear shoes specific to trail running for even more grip and support. A careful runner is an injury-free runner!

Listen to Your Body
When you only give yourself a few months to train for a given race, you often end up forcing yourself to run through fatigue, pain and other signs of injury. An example of this would be a novice runner registering for a marathon that's just four months away and following a training plan that will literally take all 16 weeks to complete. By running more conservatively, say, giving yourself six months to train after you have already built up to running a quarter of that distance, you allow some padding into your training. That way, when you feel tired, sick or sore, you can rest as needed without botching your whole training plan or exacerbating a potential injury.

I run three times a week and have a general plan for how far I want to go each time. But some days I'm just tired or my legs feel like lead. So I go slower, don't run as far, or skip those days when I really feel like my body is telling me to go easy. I have never pushed through major fatigue or pain in order to keep training, and by giving myself plenty of lead time for an upcoming race, I've never had to throw in the towel either.

A Few Final Rules
  • If you already have major joint or muscular injuries or problems, don't run. Talk to your health care provider, especially a physical therapist, to find out if running is right for you.
     
  • Don't run if you are extremely overweight. I might get a lot of flak for this one, but because running is such a high-impact activity that puts a lot of pressure on the vulnerable knee joints, people who are very overweight should not run. Yes, there are exceptions to every "rule" and some overweight individuals can run without any issues. But from an injury-prevention standpoint, if you have a lot of weight to lose, you'll do your body better with lower impact exercises until you are carrying less extra weight on your frame. No, I'm not saying you have to be thin or skinny or at your weight-loss goal to run, but be smart. If your knees already ache from carrying extra pounds, running will only worsen those symptoms.
     
  • You must walk before you can run.  Build up a solid base of aerobic fitness with walking and other activities before you run. This goes back to the idea that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. This is a safe and viable option for people who hope to run later one but just aren't there yet, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. Walking will help you burn calories and lose weight while you build a solid base of fitness, and it will get your body ready to run!
Of course, the rest is up to you. You can push yourself through pain, run a 5K in 5 weeks or less, or train for a marathon when you have 100 pounds to lose. All exercise is risky. We each take a risk every time we step out the door.

But isn't it hard enough to commit to an exercise program without pain, injury or fatigue getting in your way? Be smart and safe, and running will be that much more enjoyable for you!

Here are a few related SparkPeople resources that will help you run safely and still reach your goals:

Quiz: Are You Ready to Start Running?
Safe and Effective "5K Your Way" Training Plans
SparkPeople's Running Center (everything else you need!)

Have you ever experienced a running injury that could have been prevented? Do you follow any of these injury-prevention rules?





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Comments

  • 68
    Now the trick is patience. I got injured because I wanted to run so badly. I had so much desire and stamina. I didn't do research like this ahead of time. I only ran a few days a week, typically every other day. I did C25K so it wasn't running the whole time. Now I am nursing injuries back to health and it feels like it will never heal. - 9/8/2014   8:36:03 AM
  • EMERALDISLES
    67
    Honestly I think it depends on the individual. I definitely think one can do 5ks and 10ks, maybe 15ks for life, and do other activities as well, and not have the injuries. For me, I could see doing triathlons or doing a rowing race, or a swimming race. - 4/5/2014   3:01:49 PM
  • 66
    Great article, but quite a few people can and do run everyday without injury. Sometimes not running for some of may cause some injury. Depends on bone strength, muscle memory, and things of that nature. - 7/22/2013   10:06:46 AM
  • 65
    Lots of great info here. Thanks a bunch!!! - 6/15/2013   9:44:49 PM
  • KJESSON5
    64
    Great article...I am 60 years old and started running at 48.I started out with 5ks,gradually increased to 10ks and have done 3 half marathons spread out over 7 years.I always run only 3 times a week even when training and other than falling and hurting my shoulder have had no injuries.I have tried the barefoot running(took a short course on a winter holiday in Arizona last year)but save my barefoot running shoes for cruise ships because they are easy to pack and the track is more forgiving than my asphalt trails.I run a lot slower than I used to but at this pace I hope to keep running well into my eighties!I walk briskly on off days and take yoga a couple of times a week.I often think I should want to run a marathon but agree that it would not be the best thing for my body plus I am just not prepared to put in the time as I have a new passion...my grandson! - 3/29/2012   4:28:08 PM
  • 63
    Ahhh, you are a voice of reason, Coach Nicole. Your sensible approach is SO refreshing! - 3/29/2012   9:48:39 AM
  • 62
    Thank you for writing this article. There is so much information out there for beginner runners and it can get very confusing. I just completed week 3 of Spark's rookie running program. I'd like to be able to run the 5k for the Trick or Treat Trot virtual race, but if I can't run it all I'll finish it with walking. I'm going to listen to my body. Thanks for the advice! I really appreciate it. - 9/21/2011   9:28:04 PM
  • 61
    Thank you! While I don't want to give the impression that I would use your advice as a reason to not run, my gut feeling is that running is not for me. There is so much pressure out there to run, but it just doesn't feel natural for me. On the other hand, I can walk 5 miles at a fairly quick pace and even more miles at a slower pace. Your blog allows me to give myself credit for that and to find ways to be fit that feel right for me! - 8/28/2011   9:00:12 AM
  • 60
    What i have learned to avoid injury. I learned this after I irritated my IT band for the SECOND time and boy did it hurt!

    1) Stay well hydrated. Do not skimp on the fluids.
    2) Especially on longer runs, take along nutrition. Stay nourished!! I follow the instructions on the gels closer than I do the ones on the sunblock bottles. I take a gel 15 minutes before I run, then every 45 minutes, I have another. I particularly like to take my own concoction of 1:1 peanut butter & honey. Once I got careful about nourishment, I had fewer problems.

    It means I wear a pouch belt with bottles attached, and I don't look so cool, but tough.

    I also like to be seen so I wear a reflective vest and two head lamps, the one in back is red. - 8/26/2011   10:43:40 PM
  • 59
    You have such a great, common sense approach to fitness. Thanks for sharing your experience(s) & view points.

    Keep up the good work! - 8/1/2011   3:00:35 AM
  • EMMANYC
    58
    Great article! I'm very prone to injury and have had some trouble with over-training leading to injury. I hope I've learned my lesson, and am trying to train to run/walk a half marathon in the fall without injury. I know that I can do it. My goal is to get to the starting line without injury - and to the finish line.

    One other recommendation I would add to your list is that runners do strength training that targets body parts that play a big role in running. I do exercises for my core, my hip flexors, glutes and legs, including stability exercises for my ankles and knees and stretching/strengthening exercises for my shins. - 7/30/2011   6:30:08 PM
  • 57
    Thank you so much for this. Just because you can doesn't mean its right for you. I trained for a half marathon with an organization to raise money for a wonderful cause and I raised WAY over my amount. YEAHHHH But was worried about training and told my coach before I ever signed up. Needless to say I was pulled from the training 2 weeks prior to race day due to a hip flexor tear. It was 1 degree away from needing surgery. OUCH!! Yes I was in pain and noticed the further I trained the slower I got due to the pain of course. That was in 2006 and I am still not able to walk nearly as far I used to. But getting stronger everyday!! - 7/29/2011   9:00:03 PM
  • 56
    Well, the thing is ANYONE who has joint or knee problems probably shouldn't run, why single out fat people? I run, and I weigh 220 lbs. I haven't had adverse affects but I know people who are normal weight or even skinny, who can't run due to knee problems, or osteoarthritis, or whatever. We get singled out everyday, I'm surprised you would do it here. Are fat people more PRONE to injury? Maybe, but so are older people, people who have never been active, pregnant women, handicapped people and many other groups. Singling out fat people is just rude. I do appreciate the safety and smart tips though. - 7/29/2011   6:01:50 PM
  • 55
    It took guts to state that you do not believe that extremely overweight should run. I just wanted to thank you for explaining your viewpoint and not simply telling us overweight folks that we can't. I especially enjoy that you put that bullet in the listen to your body section. No matter what size you are, if running is causing pain...stop and re-evaluate the situation. Nice post! - 7/29/2011   1:29:42 PM
  • 54
    Great advice!!!! I really enjoyed reading this as I am prepping for a half marathon. I may consider the 10K option since this is my first run. Of course I am not counting the runs I did while in my 20-yr Army career. Thank you and I am making this a fave of mine!! - 7/29/2011   11:25:56 AM
  • 53
    Appreciated your thoughts on the barefoot running as well as acclimating to running. I have been at it since I was 12 and got hooked. I recently got very curious about the barefoot craze, and briefly considered giving it a try. The very wise runner who sold me my shoes in a great running store said the same thing- if you haven't had problems for this long, don't go making changes....if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    I remember over the years so many people told me that I shouldn't run so much...that I'd blow my knees out, etc. I've run a couple of marathons, multiple half-marathons, and tons of 10-K's and various other distance races. I'm more of a tortoise than a hare(9-10 minute pace ), but I just love how running makes me feel.Actually, barring an episode with severe plantar faciitis a couple of years ago (for which I actually got playing tennis, not running!), I have never had any running injuries in 32 years of running! It is my sanity keeper and it has made my body healthy and strong, and I intend to keep doing it as long as I can keep putting one foot in front of the other! - 7/29/2011   10:57:48 AM
  • 52
    This really is great advice. I've been running for about 34 years and have yet to try a marathon, although I've done a few half marathons. I can't imagine running a full marathon without several months of training. I know some people do this but it is truly an invitation for an injury. In addition to utilizing a training plan that lasts several months, a person should have a couple of years of regular running under his or her belt before attempting a marathon. A solid base is very helpful. - 7/29/2011   9:27:47 AM
  • 51
    I've never had a running injury either. We have some things in common...I too built up my running very slowly, interspersing it with a variety of other types of exercise. However, two things are different about us: one, I don't race. I did a handful of 5Ks and 10Ks when I first started getting super enthusiastic about running a few years ago, but they made me so nervous and stressed that I stopped. I now run whenever I want, for however long I want, and at any speed that feels right - absolutely no pressure, and I LOVE it! And two, after I read _Born to Run_ I didn't go out and buy Vibrams, but I also haven't been replacing my worn-out sneakers either. I have been running in the same shoes now for a long time (maybe a year?? I can't honestly remember) and they definitely have that worn-out look, but both for financial reasons and due to some ideas from McDougall's book that suggest that worn-out shoes might actually be BETTER for running (okay, and also laziness) I haven't bought new ones! - 7/29/2011   9:22:00 AM
  • 50
    I've always secretly wanted to be a "runner". who knows....maybe I really CAN do it?!
    - 7/29/2011   8:42:38 AM
  • 49
    I particularly agree with your comments about building a solid base of running before moving to longer distance events. I'm always shocked at 1/2 and full marathons when people talk about their preparation - many are woefully under-trained.

    Minimalist shoes do work well for many people - I resolved a long-standing issue with ankle and knee tendons by using minimalist shoes to change my stride. The key there is to switch over very slowly - again, the 'don't jump into it too fast' process. It took me 3 months to work up to 3 miles in the minimalist shoes, but the results were great.

    For older runners especially I'd endorse "the rule of two"... no more than two days of running in a row - and no more than two days off in a row either! Works very well. - 7/29/2011   8:31:59 AM
  • 48
    Very great article, I love this. It's inspirational to every body like myself. I love to share this to my friends on facebook. Very informative article. - 7/29/2011   7:31:55 AM
  • 47
    These are interesting thoughts. I don't agree with all of the positions taken, but I find myself unable to come up with really good arguments against them! Thank you for sharing your "safe" ideas.
    TerrBear - 7/29/2011   12:39:24 AM
  • 46
    Thanks so much for the very timely article Coach Nicole! I have been switching up my exercise routine, and had considered jogging or running. But I am still heavy, and was afraid I might injure something because of the extra weight, and then not be able to exercise at all. Your article helped me to make my mind up to just continue with what I am doing-some strength training, some Pilates, and some cardio. Much easier on my knees and feet, at least until I can lose some more! Thanks for all of your advice and guidance.
    PS when are you going to put out a DVD with 20, 30 and 40 minute cardio workouts????? - 7/28/2011   7:36:00 PM
  • 45
    I believe that deep stress fracture would have been avoided if I hadn't switched to minimal shoes... Yup, the Barefoot Running fever (on a Physical Therapist recommendation) got me good! Two years later, I am still not running the way I used to before that injury... :-( - 7/28/2011   12:51:35 PM
  • 44
    Loved this article! I'm 67 and walk/hike a lot these days. I occasionally break into running (or my version thereof) ... not fast and not far, but such a great feeling for me. I'd like to do a 5K some day ... we'll see how that goes. Thanks for the info! - 7/28/2011   12:15:08 PM
  • 43
    Good article!! I'd been considering starting training for a half-marathon in the spring after having run off and on (mostly off) for the past decade and a lot more over the past couple of years (I just turned 35). This past February, my boyfriend and I ran our second personal Valentine's Day 8K. I've decided that 8k will be my distance, though--maybe I'll try a 10k run someday, but as of today, I'm happy to run 5k three times a week. I love running now even though I really disliked it when I was younger, all the way until I was in my mid-20s. I do think that you are VERY lucky for having avoided injury, but you can pat yourself on the back for your excellent training techniques if you like because I agree that smart training can avoid at least most training. I patted myself on the back, too, until I got hit with the shinsplints about 8 years ago and sidelined my running for years when they became a recurring problem. I just don't want others who've suffered injuries to think they've done something wrong if they've come away inujured. When you exercise, you just run that risk. Of course, when you don't exercise, I think you run even worse risks. I also agree with you about the shoes. I saw that one commentor's food and bone doctors were all for flat-footed running. My foot and bone doctors told me to toss all my slipper-like flats away because of the damage they were doing to my severely flat feet, especially if I was going to pursue running. While orthopedic shoes aren't always sexy and stability sneakers aren't always cute, they're comfy as heck and have helped me achieve and surpass all my fitness goals--a lot of people need them, and if you have foot problems because you're wearing the wrong shoes, then good shoes are so worth the investment. They've also helped my shin splint issues disappear for good. Yeah, I miss the $10 Target ballet flats, but my feet have never been happier, and I'm just bummed I wasted so much time in the wrong shoes. I also agree with not jumping into running if you're very overweight. I've had overweight friends try to jump on the running bandwagon, injure themselves, and be not only immobilized, but demoralized about trying to lose weight in general. I always tell them to just start with walking. Good way to prime the whole body--lungs, joints, muscles, heart, etc. That's how I started, and one day, I ran a few steps, a few steps more the next day, then one day and 30 lbs lighter, it was a mile without stopping or losing my breath. - 7/28/2011   11:41:59 AM
  • CYNNANE
    42
    I feel victim to trying too much too quickly. I got a bout of runners knee in March of this year when I first started a 5K program. Allowing your body time to rest is a lesson I learned the hard way (that and get a good part of running shoes!). - 7/28/2011   11:24:59 AM
  • 41
    Interesting article, I'm a marathon runner. Ran my first full marathon just over a year after starting to run consistently and love it. I definitely believe in being safe and conservative! Thanks for the tips! - 7/28/2011   10:59:32 AM
  • 40
    I like the way you think, Coach Nicole! Thank you for sharing with me that it's ok to NOT train for a full marathon, especially if running 5k or 10k is (as Goldilocks said) "just right." I was sidelined in May with an injury and I still haven't run since. I have been walking, but I know my body needs more vigorous activity than walking. I have been gaining weight and I really miss running! This article has inspired me to get back out there. Thanks again. - 7/28/2011   10:52:43 AM
  • 39
    This is an excellent article for any activity not just running. Slow and steady win the race. - 7/28/2011   8:57:59 AM
  • 38
    Great advice! I have been running for almost a year, and as much as my competitive nature wants to get out there and run longer (more than a 5k) races, I know my body isn't ready for it yet. I do disagree with your advice for very overweight people to hold off running. When I started running, I weighed 245 lbs, but I did not (and still do not) have any knee or other joint issues. I started very slowly, with a learn to run program that alternates walking and running, and now run 3 times a week, averaging 7-8 miles a week. Not a lot of miles, but again, I know my body isn't ready for more. That will come in time. For now, I allow myself to enjoy the slower pace. As more pounds are shed, I'll be able to ask more of my body. - 7/28/2011   8:14:59 AM
  • 37
    as someone new to "running" (i'm beginning my couch to 5k walk/jog program in a couple of days), this article was MOST helpful. thanks coach nicole! - 7/28/2011   8:10:56 AM
  • BRAHBRAH
    36
    Great points in this article. I really believe that one should listen to their body and make their workout fit them individually regardless of what plans they've read. Or trends going on. - 7/28/2011   4:40:59 AM
  • 35
    Thank you for pointing out that running is not for everyone! I have balance problems caused by neurological problems. I walk with pleasure, but after several falls, a broken ankle, a broken hip and a torn meniscus, my gait has been affected and I know that running is not in the picture for me. I've found out the hard way that just because I "can" do something, doesn't mean that I should. I'm challenging my body now with Iyengar yoga and Pilates, and walking is my prefered means of transportation around town. I've found that walking too fast results in days of pain. I know that I can handle distance a lot better than I can handle speed, but even with this knowledge, I'm not willing to attempt a race, even a walk-a-thon, because I know that my competitive nature would lead me to do too much too fast. Thanks for reminding us that even though running is sexy, it may not be a safe choice for everyone. - 7/28/2011   12:26:04 AM
  • 34
    Thanks for the good advice. And congratulations on a year of running. - 7/27/2011   8:27:00 PM
  • 33
    Thank you for this article. It could not have come at a better time when the running stores are promoting their training marathon and half marathon training programs. I have had an injury or two and I have learned from them. Since mid June, I made a schedule not to run more than three times a week and I have stuck to it. I am a little slow on the learning part, and my body has paid the price for it, but I also know the importance of a cool down after my run or strength training workouts. I take the time to read the articles here and it has made a huge difference as to how I see food and exercise.

    Thank you

    Daphne in Doral (Miami) - 7/27/2011   5:11:58 PM
  • 32
    What a delightful and informative article! I can now raise my head high because, although I have not become a runner, I've known for some time that it's just not for me. I have chosen other aerobic exercises in its place. - 7/27/2011   3:21:06 PM
  • 31
    Great article but you forgot one thing: You are lucky. I am a very conservative runner, just like you advocate. But I have stepped off a curb a little wonky, in perfect weather, on a short run after a rest day and been out for two weeks.

    I also agree with you that even though I have run a half marathon, I will not be going for a full. Too hard on my old body! - 7/27/2011   3:06:43 PM
  • MYRMED
    30
    Great article! I used to run for as my main form of exercise years ago and am just getting back into it -- I have to remember once again I have to 'walk before I can run'. Thanks again!! - 7/27/2011   2:21:27 PM
  • 29
    Those are awesome suggestions/guidelines for ANY exercise program. Thanks, Coach. - 7/27/2011   1:45:06 PM
  • 28
    I agree with your advice. I started out running a few years ago and probably did too much too soon as I began having knee problems. I gave up running for almost half a year and started again recently. I have been running 2 mi each run- about 2 to 3 times a week. It feels like nothing compared to what I used to run, or compared to my friend running a half marathon. However, I know running at a slow pace for this smaller distance is good for me because my knees feel great for months (knock on wood!).
    Thanks for reminding me what I'm doing is good for me. - 7/27/2011   1:24:29 PM
  • 27
    This was the best read of the day for me, Coach Nicole! Thank you. At 61, I am happy to be able to enjoy 5ks and support the various causes each race benefits. I will continue to do them with proper training and preparation. I am maintaining my weight now and 5ks suit my purpose. My cross training will involve my biking. Thanks again for the great guidance. - 7/27/2011   12:40:49 PM
  • 26
    I'd just like to add that even if you try to do everything right, injuries can come out of nowhere. I ran my first half marathon this spring with no injuries, but added biking to my schedule as "low-impact cross training" and biking combined with running gave me Runner's Knee, which I'm now trying to recover from. So "low impact" activities can still put too much stress on your joints if you start them too quickly.

    And please knock on wood about the "no injuries" from running. This April I smugly congratulated myself on having no injuries after a year of running, and now I'm starting physical therapy. - 7/27/2011   12:39:02 PM
  • RCOV10
    25
    I started running again regularly about 7 weeks ago and I agree with the idea of cross-training and working your way up slowly. I went from barely 2 miles to almost 2.5 in 30 min and see nothing wrong with my progress. I am intrigued about barefoot running though, and I'd like to see an article dedicated to the pros and cons of that. This article gave me a refresher course on how to monitor myself to prevent injury. Afterall, what good is exercising for the long-term if I burn myself out at 25? - 7/27/2011   12:15:47 PM
  • AUNTIELAURA
    24
    I never had an injury until age 45 and then they just compounded each other. I would knock on wood when you say this. With regard to the minimalist running trend, you need to pick up the book Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. You ARE doing damage to your body when you wear shoes with padding that encourage a heel-toe foot strike. You can't just put on the shoes and go, you have to take a class on how to modify your form. My podiatrist and orthopedic surgeon both agreed that flat foot running is better. - 7/27/2011   11:13:46 AM
  • 23
    I need to comment on this post. I worked out for 18 months, worked up very slowly to 15 minutes of running on the treadmill. I decided to run outdoors for the first time. I walked for a mile and then jogged for a mile. I injured my knee and it has never been the same. I do not believe running is for everyone. Running is a high-risk/high-impact exercise that is tremendously hard on joints. I think it's a great exercise for people who have always been active, but a terrible exercise to take up later in life. - 7/27/2011   10:27:21 AM
  • 22
    Excellent post! I needed to hear this! - 7/27/2011   10:14:13 AM
  • 21
    Excellent article!! I am a new runner. I did the Sparkpeople 5k program and gradually worked my way up and did my first 5k race two weeks ago. Due to the fact that I am taking up running in my early 40's, I am very conscious of not overdoing it and injuring my knees. I usually just run 2-3 times a week and almost never run two days in a row. I also bike and do Zumba. I am also in agreement with your view on not running if you are considerably overweight. I tried to run when I was first losing the weight and couldn't. I was always hurting myself in one joint or another. Now that I have lost nearly 50 pounds, I am finally able to run without stress on my joints. I may eventually add on more miles, but I am very happy now being able to run 5k without having to take more than one short walking break. :) - 7/27/2011   10:13:42 AM
  • 20
    Coach Nicole, this was a great article. I also completed my first half marathon this last spring, but I started training last fall. I've never been a runner, and got started when I decided I wanted to do a triathlon - which I really enjoy. I'm not very competitive, and definitely run at my own pace. I think that's another reason I've never had an injury from running. Thanks for sharing! - 7/27/2011   10:08:22 AM
  • 19
    There's a great adage for runners, "Never run too fast, too far, too soon, even if you think you can!" Obey those tenets, and you'll tally up lots of happy miles... That is how I've run, injury-free, for seven years, and is at the heart of what Coach Nicole states in this article. I also think that it's important to learn proper running form before ever lacing up a pair of running shoes. It makes a huge difference in your enjoyment of the sport and in preventing injuries if you avoid the pitfalls I see on the trails, such as flailing arms and hunched-over postures!

    As for marathons... I admire marathoners. It takes strength, endurance and mind-over-matter to accomplish the feat of running 26.2 miles. It takes great discipline to train both body and mind for such a lofty goal. But, I think we've become obsessed with marathons to the point that people think anyone can run one. That's unhealthy and dangerous! Running is something I do for fitness and I like to keep it fun. The thought of turning it into a "job" to run (or even WALK) a marathon, would take all the joy out of it for me. - 7/27/2011   10:05:13 AM

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