1) Training for a ½ or full marathon when you’ve never run a 5K or 10K- because of variability of muscle types, bone density, running mechanics and the efficiency of oxygen consumption, not everybody was made to run long-distance races. Some great athletes are hardly capable of running 5 miles. Then, you have those individuals who can run a ½ marathon and barely train to do it. If a novice runner, see what your body is capable of first by training for and completing shorter races before attempting much longer runs.
2) Pushing through pain to get through a run- there’s fatigue, soreness, the muscle burn and then, there’s pain. Concerning pain includes sharp discomfort, pain that results in limping, constant pain and pain associated with swelling. Pain around a tendon or right over a bone is a warning sign. Don’t ignore the “check engine light” that comes on in your body. Learn to recognize the difference between the types of discomfort and seek medical attention when the concerning form of pain is present.
3) The wrong footwear- this can be shoes that are too old or the wrong type for your foot and particular gait pattern. It’s time for new shoes when there’s visible wear of the tread, especially in the forefoot area (the third of the foot closest to the toes). Shoes should be updated every 300-500 miles or every 9-12 months, whichever comes first. Also, seek a true “fitting” for your shoes. The right size, width and style (stability, neutral, zero drop, etc.) are important choices, and you should avoid choosing the latest “fad” shoe or the one that has the coolest design simply for the fashion statement. Find a quality running store that can help you with these choices.
4) Training with a partner of a different skill set- it’s generally best to train with someone of a similar skill set and set of goals. Many runners are competitive (whether they admit it or not!), and will push each other at times even on training runs. While this is not all bad, someone training for their first ½ marathon will likely struggle to keep up with someone that has run numerous long-distance races. What’s the net result? The inexperienced runner tries to keep up with the experienced runner in terms of speed, distance and mindset. This is a recipe for injury. If wanting to train with a partner, try to find one that is willing to follow a similar schedule and runs a similar pace.
5) Making up for lost time- sometimes a training schedule gets derailed. An illness, an injury or a life event knocks a runner off his/her training schedule for a couple of weeks. Race day is nearing, and thus, the runner tries to advance the training schedule by increasing the number of running days each week or jumping ahead and doing more miles or longer runs than what he/she should be doing. Example: it’s late in the training schedule for a ½ marathon, and the longest run you’ve done is 7 miles. You missed 2 weeks of training because of a sinus infection. You jump ahead on the schedule and do 10 miles on a Saturday. Now, your shin is throbbing. Shin splint or stress fracture? Either way, you’re done! No race for you. No running for weeks to months. What should you have done instead? Resumed your training schedule where you left off before the illness. Then, if not ready for this race, postpone and run another one. There are ½ marathons within a region almost every weekend, especially from the late winter until the late spring. Or, you could have still run the race, but adjusted your goals. Maybe you change your mindset to just finishing the race, even it meant walking part of race. The bottom line: skipping steps in your training often results in an increased risk of injury.
At Impact Sports Medicine, we would rather help you prevent an injury, but when one does occur, we are ready to help! Enjoy your running!