Rules to Run by: Runners come in all shapes and sizes, with different strengths and weaknesses, diverse goals, and varied abilities to rehab or pre-hab (perform daily exercises to stay injury free). There are however a few general recommendations that all runners should know to help keep the injury bug away. This includes mindfulness, cadence, and warming up. When done properly, and with continued effort, any runner will drastically improve their chances of continuing to train at the level they desire and training without limits.
- “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Mindfulness is critical to any athlete attempting to perform at an optimal level but it is especially crucial with running – an activity that, well let’s admit it, can become mind-numbing. Most people overlook mindful running, especially in our world of constant information overload. An ache here, a “wobbly feeling” there can often be overlooked. But it is critical for ensuring that every runner maintains good form and technique from the start of each run to the finish line and that each runner is able to identify a problem as it starts and correct it before it becomes an injury.
- Cadence is the speed of your steps. It is often described as the number of steps you take in a minute. By adjusting cadence to a 170-180 steps per minute runners improve their efficiency and reduce the loading force through the body with each step. “A number of studies have suggested that a faster running cadence helps to adjust a runner’s form, and in turn, may lead to fewer injuries.” Check out an app for your phone like Metronome Beats and try running to the beat. You may start off by finding your normal pace and increasing it a little bit each run so you can gradually reach that goal of 170-180 steps per minute.
- The warm up is basic, but still quite important. It means starting gradually and targeting specific body parts or movements to prepare for the intended activity. How much you need to warm up depends on the athlete, the activity, and the intensity. For many athletes who are working to overcome an injury, a more extensive and targeted body part warm up is critical to ensure a healthy return to running or continued performance in running. “A proper warm up may require expert guidance but will significantly reduce the risk of injury” says Dr. Craig Iseli, Physical Therapist at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR.
Regardless of the ability level of the runner, the distance they are training for, or where they are in their training program, these are a few tips that will help ensure a much greater chance of continued enjoyment and success in their running endeavors. Don’t settle for less than you deserve, and continue to Run for a future without limits.