The short answer is: you don’t
But of course the longer answer is: it depends. Experienced runners know what to do but it doesn’t mean they apply those rules. Why? Because we’re mad, we’re addicted and we always think that running will heal everything. Just another one, only 10 km and I’m done.
Runners: we’re different..
Injuries (I’m not talking about accidents) usually don’t come from nowhere. They creep on you, they come as a nagging pain, small ‘thingy’ that grow bigger until it becomes unbearable. Like taxes. But, unlike taxes, you can avoid them or mitigate the damage. Sometimes a day or two of rest will do the trick: you have a tense muscle and if you run on it you might pull it. Or maybe you should change your running shoes but you forgot to keep track on how many miles/kms you run in them. Pain that stays with you is always an invitation to stop and find a reason why. Or at least stop.
Don’t be greedy, good things come slowly
Most of us believe we’re made of iron (or rubber, you choose) and we can do whatever and our bodies will follow. News: you’re not a Superman, if you start running too much too soon you will get injured. It sounds so obvious but we still forget that your body needs to adapt to a load of workout. A small amount of it will make you progress and become faster and stronger but if your body will be subjected to too much too soon it won’t be able to process it.
Small addition of kms (miles)= you’re sore, big load too soon= you’ll be sorry.
Invest: foam roller, massage and maybe a coach.
Aah, investments..they said running was the cheapest sport of them all. But then you decided to run more, race, eat gels wear fancy shorts and have a smart watch that tell you that you’re slow.
To be honest you can skip most of the gadgets (keep the shoes and sports bra) but invest in foam roller. This torture device will give you a good muscle release, use it on your legs, glutes or even on your back. It hurts sometimes (almost always) but it works like a good deep tissue massage. If roller is not enough go to osteopath that may spot flaws in your posture and maybe give you some corrective exercises. Another good investment is a good coach. If you keep on getting injuries maybe someone should take a look at your running routine and goals?
Running is not enough
That’s the saddest and most interesting part. The saddest because running is fun and everything else is sooo boring.
Interesting because in reality there are a lots of other sports and activities that can make you move, be entertaining and even…wait for it..make you a better runner. Cycling, hiking, swimming will condition your muscles differently and will help you building endurance. Personally I consider very beneficial taking up activity that you won’t take so seriously as your other sport. You’re a great runner? Start dancing and laughing at your lack of coordination!
Ok, that’s it. I’m sure there’s a way to avoid injuries but they happen anyway to even the best of us. The art of dealing with it is another blog post…