Wear good shoes (when running and not running).
Ensuring properly fitting running shoes can prevent injuries in your body. You want shoes that accommodate your level of pronation and provide the proper amount of support. Replacing shoes when they are worn out also reduces the risk of injury. However, it’s not just the shoes that you wear for the time spent running that matter. The shoes you wear to work, doing errands and during the remaining hours of the day can cause lower extremity injuries. High heels can irritate the calf muscles and Achilles tendon and flip flops can cause biomechanical issues that negatively affect your running form. Wear supportive shoes if you know you will be on your feet for a long period of time. You’ll not only be less prone to injury, but you’ll be comfortable too!
2. Gradually increase your mileage
Overuse injuries are the result of doing too much running too soon in training. Your body requires time to adapt to higher training loads. Too much refers to volume (how many miles you run, both on a daily and weekly basis), intensity (how hard a given run is), and frequency (how many days you run per week). The common rule of thumb is to increase mileage by 10% every week. That may not provide the body with enough time to adapt to higher mileage before increasing it again, nor does it allow for time to increase intensity. Instead of increasing mileage by 10% each week, try this 4-week cycle for safely increasing your running mileage:
Week 1: Increase your weekly mileage 10-20% by adding 1-2 miles to your long run and 1 mile to each other run. Keep most, if not all, of your runs at an easy effort.
Weeks 2 & 3: Maintain your new mileage and add in one to two-speed workouts.
Week 4: Reduce your mileage by 10-15% for a cutback week.
You don’t need to run every day, and maybe you shouldn’t! Neglecting rest causes injury because your body never gets a chance to heal from all the miles you’re running. The recovery process is what heals the microtrauma in your muscles after each run and makes your body stronger. When you don’t let your body recover enough, your joints, bones, and muscles can become weaker over time. Depending on how many days per week you run, take 1-2 days per week to rest from running and cross-training. You may choose to do yoga on these days or go for a light walk, but all activities should be low intensity and gentle.
Rest days are especially important if you are training for a long-distance race such as a marathon or half marathon. The harder you train, the more recovery your body needs. After a race, take 3-7 days off from running if you ran a half marathon and 1-2 weeks off if you ran a marathon. A week off from running may seem like a long time, but the time off is well worth avoiding 2-6 weeks of being forced to the sidelines by injury.