Running is one of the most enjoyable, cheapest and easiest ways to get fit. Unfortunately it also causes one of the highest rates of injury, so here are a few simple tips to help.
Stretching – This is of course crucial, particularly if running a long distance. It is best to warm up with a brisk walk or gentle jog then a small stretch before running properly. Each stretch should be held in place for 30 seconds without bouncing. Even when not exercising brief daily stretches help to reduce injuries. These 6 simple stretches are great.
Avoid the ‘terrible too’s’ – It is very easy to do too much too fast when enthusiastically starting to run. Even very fit cyclists, swimmers or other sportsman that don’t run regularly can still experience problems due to different stresses, impacts and muscle use. A good general rule is not to increase your weekly mileage (time for beginners) by more than 15% at a time.
Pace – Running at a pace that suits you is important. Aiming for a set time per mile is all well and good during a race but even professionals have to alter this depending on what their body is telling them. Runs can change day to day depending on a variety of factors (fatigue, terrain, mood, weather) beginners should focus on time spent running rather than speed or distance at first.
Rest – Include rest days in your training schedule to allow your body to recover, strengthen and adapt to a workout. Sleep is vital as this is when the body recovers best, so a good night’s sleep after training makes it far more beneficial.
Variation – Adding variation to your runs reduces muscular fatigue which can lead to poor performance and injuries. This also increases your all round fitness, making you a more versatile runner.
Technique – Running with a poor technique is a common cause of injury, while running with a perfect technique will improve your times. This article on BBC Sport gives some useful tips.
Venue – It may seem obvious but choose a safe place to run. One of the most painful running injuries is rupturing the achilles tendon, caused by over stretching the calf, this sounds like a gun being fired. This can be caused by running on soft sand, so when beach running chose your area carefully. Obviously also avoid badly lit or fast roads, areas you may get lost and Komodo Dragons.