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With the recent return of parkrun, the inspiration of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the need to get outside, I think I’m finally getting my running mojo back. But I don’t wanna get too excited and end up with a running injury, do I?!

It’s easily done; I read a stat via Nike* that said 40% of runners are still getting injured each year. That’s nearly half of us!

So whether you’re a seasoned runner keen to not have an injury hold you back, an everyday athlete who doesn’t want an injury to slow your progress or you’re wanting to run but the fear of injury is holding you back or you just don’t know where to start… I’ve got some sage and simple advice for you.

Build Up Gradually

I had to think carefully about the order of this advice and decided to start here – build up gradually. This goes for both distance and overall intensity.

If you’re completely new to running, a programme like Couch to 5k is perfect and you can always adjust the plan to suit you by taking more rest days, working through it at a slower pace or repeating any runs you feel you need to.

For more regular runners who might be looking to run further, a time tested rule is the 10 percent rule. The 10 percent rule states that you should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent over the previous week.

This allows your body the time it needs to adapt, so you can get stronger, fitter and faster… and not get injured from running.

Warm Up To Avoid Running Injuries

running warm up hamstring reaches in lululemon running leggings

One area that a lot of running programmes fail on (including couch to 5k) is the pre-run warm up routine. Your warm up prepares your body for what’s to come and helps to reduce the risk of you injuring yourself.

I’ve shared plenty of ideas here on the blog for running warm ups including this guest post from Personal Trainer Yasmine with some tips for warming up, especially when the weather is colder.

My go to warm up though are these five dynamic exercises, which take between 5 and 15 minutes to complete. They were even featured in Runners World UK – see them in action on Instagram here.

Cool Down / Flexibility

In the same league as a warm up, is a cool down. This comes at the end of your run and returns your body to a “cooler” state, where your heart rate is lowered gradually. It’s also the perfect time to work on flexibility – again, to help reduce the risk of injury but also to start the recovery process.

You have to check out these stretches – as much as they’ll help you work towards the front spilts, they’re also the perfect leg stretches for post run, or on your rest days:

  • Get Closer To Splits With These 4 Stretches
  • How To Improve Flexibility Nail The Splits

Choose Appropriate Footwear

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the right footwear for running. When you run, you move in just a forward motion. Therefore, running shoes are built with support for that plane of movement.

They then have cushioning to allow for shock absorption as well as thicker heels and midsoles. The sole should also have a slight curvature to aid your toe off when running and help speed you up. The only flexibility really needed in a running shoe is through the toe area. 

I’ve been through a fair few brands and styles of running shoes so I now know what I love, what feels comfortable and what works for me.

When it comes to how often you should change your running shoes, I think the balance needs to be struck between the actual state of your shoes and the arbitrary numbers that people suggest. For example, ASICS suggest you change your shoes every 450 to 550 miles vs On Running who recommend changing between 310 and 465miles.

Some Common Running Injuries:

  • Foot Pain When Running Caused By Plantar Fasciitis?
  • Dealing With Shin Splints – Symptoms Treatment

Get Strong To Avoid Running Injuries

running warm up lunge with side reach in lululemon running leggings - Get Strong To Avoid Running Injuries

This is probably one are where a lot of runners fail. They run, and do nothing else. Cross-training has so many benefits – it promotes muscle balance, it maintains or improves your cardio fitness (like, hello cycling), and it stops you getting bored.

Most importantly though, cross-training can allow you to train around certain injures (again, hello cycling) as well as reducing your overall risk of injury.

Besides cycling, you could try strength training, yoga, Pilates, swimming, rowing or walking / hiking. There are plenty of activities to choose from. The majority of the previous suggestions are also low impact which gives your body a much needed rest from the high impact of running.

Also, check out my On-Demand Studio Membership where you can get access to 60+ workouts – including HIIT, kettlebells, core, lower body and foam rolling – perfect for runners looking to add some variation and get strong to run.

Avoid Running Injuries With Rest Recovery

In a similar vain to the warm up and cool down, rest and recovery is important. You need to listen to your body, or learn to in order to understand how far you can push without causing yourself an injury.

I know first hand the difference that ample rest and recovery can provide – and this doesn’t have to mean doing nothing at all. You could choose to do some gentle yoga / stretching or even go for a walk as part of your recovery.

Seek Professional Help If Needed

Last but not least, if you’re in doubt seek help from a professional. This could be a running coach who helps you plan and programme sessions, a Personal Trainer to help you get strong, or a Sports Therapist, physiotherapist or Osteopath to help with niggling injuries.

I hope you’ve picked up a few tips to help you prevent running injuries, along with sign posting to posts of valuable content and resources to help you take action.

Tell me about your running journey… has it been smooth sailing? Or have you been cursed with injuries?