Experts have devised a set of guidelines called “The 10% Rule.” Simplified, this rule recommends an increase in training mileage at 10% per week and no higher. The motivation behind this rule is to avoid training errors which occurs when the human body is subjected to sudden changes in running intensity and mileage.
The body requires a recovery period so that it can respond well to the demands of training. Rushing the body may result in muscular and soft tissue injury. Experts in sports, biomechanics and kinesiology all agree that pushing too hard is not the answer to advancing forward. On the contrary, it can even delay successful achievement of running goals.
The best approach to training is to increase the monthly and weekly running mileage total based on the 10-percent rule. A person who is injury prone must also consider a lower target such as 3% or 5%. Even top runners base their training program on this rule and they apply the same principle when they engage in interval training, trail running, and hill running as well as other training activities. This approach is also helpful to a runner who wants to gauge their personal training threshold.
It pays to be sensitive to what your body is telling you. If there is pain anywhere, pay attention to it. Do not dismiss it, but take appropriate action. Don’t drown the pain in medications, but instead take decisive action to determine what’s causing it. Even at the slightest sign of discomfort, it is best to lower the running intensity for a while or even substitute other lighter activities such as walking or bicycling. It is important to remember to return to running only when absolutely pain-free. A consultation with a sports medicine specialist is the best way to go.
Remember that running is a physical activity that puts immense amounts of stress on the human body. Although it does not involve lifting weights, the lower limbs still receive repeated high impact loading. Be a smart runner and include injury prevention in your training program.
One of the biggest reasons for running injuries is the “terrible too’s”. So many runners are so excited when they take on something new or have a new goal. This can apply to beginning runners who are just getting started or runners who have been running awhile and decide to take on a new challenge – such as training for a marathon or decided to get faster with their 10K time.
When a runner does too much too soon – injuries can occur. The general rule of thumb is to never add 10% to your weekly mileage from one week to the next. Also, don’t try to add mileage and increase speed at the same time. Too much intensity and too much mileage at the same time can really hurt you.
Another major cause of injury can be your running shoes. Running in shoes that are not made for your foot type can cause injury after a while. Make sure that you are going to a specialized running store and get fitted properly for your foot type. This will help you to run more comfortably, in addition to warding off injury.
Also, make sure that you are not putting too many miles on your running shoes. Depending on your size and running habits – shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles. After that – the supportive and cushioning material in your shoes will break down and your feet are not getting the protection that you need when you run. This can definitely lead to injury.
Running on concrete is a big culprit of running injuries. Avoid sidewalks if possible. Concrete is 10 times harder than asphalt and will definitely cause a shock for your legs. I run beside sidewalks instead of on them.
Make sure that you are stretching and working all your muscles. If you are having glitches in your knees – you may find yourself doing all the knee exercises that you can – but ignoring the other stretches that you do after your run. Or if you are nursing a sore ankle – you may be causing extra stress on part of your other leg. Make sure that you are strengthening all parts of your legs to keep balance.