The Rungry Health Coach

How to Stay Injury-Free During Training

As soon as you register for an upcoming race, you feel all the emotions. You're excited for a new goal. You love the idea of a structured training regimen. You're nervous about hitting your desired pace come race day, and you're eager to start mapping out post-race eats.

But a lingering emotion could be anxiety: Starting a new training regimen could leave you susceptible to injury. Even with a perfectly-mapped and executed training plan, you could still end up injured. Common running injuries include pain in the heels, knees or feet.

Running injuries are your body's way of telling you to slow down and stop pushing so hard.

There are ways to navigate the training plan and cross the finish line happy and injury-free.

1. Practice the less is more mentality. Believe it or not, some people thrive when running only three to fours day per week, and adding in quality cross-training sessions. Running for five or six days can take its toll on the body. To ensure you're getting the most out of those three weekly runs, include one speed work session, one tempo run, and one long run.
2. Utilize the foam roller. A foam roller is an easy way to massage tired muscles. The roller can target the quads, calves, hamstrings, back, inner thigh and more. View videos via YouTube to learn techniques.
3. Try out strength training. When you blend in strength training sessions into your training routine, you're exercising your muscles in a new way. You're building strength and allowing your muscles a break from all those miles. Focus on total-body exercises with dumbbells, kettlebells or even using your own body weight!
4. Listen to your body. If something feels "off" during a run, stop. If your body feels rundown or you're starting to feel a nagging pain somewhere, stop and rest. Pushing through tiredness or a potential injury could lay you up.
5. Stretch your body out. After runs, take a few moments to walk and cool your body down. Ease into stretches and work out all those potential aches and pains. On your rest days, you may want to institute a yoga practice.
6. Eat well. Believe it or not, nutrition is a critical component of training, and staying injury-free. There are foods that increase inflammation--like certain cooking oils, refined carbohydrates, or artificially-sweetened beverages. Remove those from your diet and replace them with healing foods like turmeric or ginger.
7. Don't get cocky. Mentality plays a big factor in this equation, too. Keep a level-headed mindset, practice gratitude and acknowledge your abilities. Don't push through pain to get those extra miles. Don't over-exert yourself on a run because you feel great and have something to prove. Adhere to the training schedule and prescribed workouts.

The Rungry Health Coach

Eight Steps to Start Running

Want to start running, but don't know where to start? Easy! Lace up a pair of sneakers, go outside and move your legs faster than walking pace. Done!
Beth Running Alley_copy2

All right, starting a habit of running is a bit more nuanced than that, but you get the idea. If you want to run, then run, but be smart about it.

1. Lace up a pair of comfortable and supportive sneakers. You don't need to shell out lots of money on a new pair of running shoes, but a sturdy pair of gym shoes will do the trick.
2. Don't anticipate running the mile time you clocked in middle school, or competing with Olympic runners. Take your time and gradually increase the pace over a series of days or weeks. Listen to your body.
3. Just like timing, don't anticipate going far. Running can take a tole on your body and depending on your current endurance, you probably won't be able to run one, two, or 17 miles right out the door. (And that's ok!) 
4. Play with intervals. Find an easy course near your house and start walking for about 10 minutes. Slowly increase your pace near the end. Then, pick up the pace and hold it for XX amount of seconds. Or, use a landmark. Run to the next fire hydrant or street lamp. Then, once that interval is up, do a recovery walk. Repeat that.
5. Gradually increase those running intervals and slowly decrease the rest intervals. Eventually, you'll build up enough endurance to run a mile consistently. 
6. Add a little more distance once you can run one mile consistently. Keep tacking on a bit more distance. 
7. Keep listening to your body. Your body will tell you if it needs to stop or wants to continue.
8. Space out these training runs to about three to four days a week.

This process takes time, so ensure you celebrate your little victories.