With business reopening post-pandemic quarantine and little-by-little we are adapting to this so-called new-normal, it’s obvious that runners all around the world have already tied their running shoes, put on their visors and GPS watches, and are ready to make up for lost time. They hope to run all the miles that they otherwise couldn’t during the lockdown.
However, here is some wise advice to these anxious runners: take it easy, and control your anxiety. It’s not wise to immediately aim for the same pace and weekly distance we had pre-lockdown. This is a mistake that can easily result in injuries and consequently keep us away from training and competing. Keep in mind, availability is our best ability.
It is estimated that more than 50% of runners suffer from at least one injury per year, and that happens in large part because, in order to quickly improve their fitness, they speed up the training process; thus, increasing volume and/or intensity too quickly. Fundamentally, it is critical that you allow your body time to adapt to the stressors that you impose on it.
For example: to give you an idea of how much stress your body has to withstand while running, you just need to do the math: for each step, our musculoskeletal system has to absorb 2-3 times our body weight. Now, multiply that for the number of steps you do for each run and then multiply that result for the number of times you run per week.
According to this reasoning, we can conclude that the weekly mileage plays an important role as a risk factor for running related injuries. Therefore, knowing our own body limits is crucial, and that’s why we shall never copy-and-paste someone else´s training program.
Previous injuries constitute another important risk factor. Those who have already suffered from an injury in the past are more likely to get injured again. Especially if training precautions are not meticulously followed.
Here is some basic advice to follow so as to avoid running injuries when you resume training:
- Gradually increase your weekly mileage, distributing the increments evenly between each session. If you´re not an experienced runner, and even more, if you have a previous injury, don´t make increments greater than 1 mile per training session.
- Do not increase your mileage weekly. You must be comfortable with the distance – per session and per week – before trying to add another mile. The same principle should be applied to the long run.
- Don’t make your long run too long. The long run distance shouldn´t be longer than one third of the weekly mileage. That is, if you are running 30 miles per week, your long run distance should be no longer than 10 miles.
- Allow your easy run to be easy! Don’t make the mistake of making your “easy” run a hard run.
- Don´t increase volume and speed at the same time. For those weeks when you´re aiming for a faster pace (intensity training), you may decrease the weekly mileage.
In addition to all the advice above, we also need to improve our flexibility and mobility. However, it´s important to note that for running, the rule “the more, the better” does not apply. We need to find balance.