Are you superstitious? I am.
One of my superstitions is this fear of jinxing myself when it comes to discussing certain topics out loud.
You may have noticed that I shy away from a certain topic in particular….
Ahhh! I said it out loud! Time to knock on wood…
Aside from my random-out-of-nowhere-still-can’t-explain-how-or -why shoulder injury which occurred back in April 2013, I am able to run happy 99.9% of the time without any issues or discomfort to report.
And because I have no discomfort to report, I have no injuries to discuss. And because I have none to discuss, I live in fear of discussing that I have none to discuss.
From time to time I do receive emails from readers asking for advice regarding running injuries as well as tips on to how to stay injury free. They want to know what it is I do or don’t do to keep running without being sidelined.
At first thought, I haven’t a clue. I just do my thing.
But that’s not a great answer to help anyone so I gave it some more thought and decided it was time to face my fear of discussing the topic by approaching it with you this morning.
Just remember, I am no expert. Not even when it comes to myself. And really, do the experts truly know what will 100% work or not work every time?
*The Right Running Shoes*
I know we have spoken a lot about finding the right running shoes for your feet and when to replace them but it is worth mentioning again.
When you are running in the right shoes for your feet, the world is a happier place.
Sometimes that nagging knee pain, odd hip feeling, shin splints, hamstring tightness and sore heels aren’t really injuries waiting to explode but discomfort caused by the wrong running shoes.
But yes, it is absolutely possible to end up with a true injury if you continue to run in the wrong model or a burned out pair of sneakers.
My feet on occasion may talk about needing a change of shoe scenery but at the end of the day, the Adidas Energy Boosts are their true love.
I am on my fourth pair and our time together has been just about seamless.
I used to experience pain on the tops of my feet after my runs which would linger into the next run as well as cause pain in other places because I would run a certain way to compensate for the discomfort.
I was always trying to readjust the laces to relieve the pressure or whatever the heck was going on but it never worked.
Once I switched to Adidas, the sock-like fit eliminated my top of foot pain for good. Not once since owning these shoes have I experienced that pain again.
*I Don’t Push It*
Let’s start with pace:
I do use MapMyRun for every run and I have an idea of where my average/usual pace hangs out but I don’t force it upon myself and never really think about it much when I am finished.
I have weeks where I’m flying in the 8:00 min/mile range, days on the treadmill where I am in the 7:00 min/mile range and feel great dropping under 7:00 min/mile along with PLENTY of days where my best of abilities is averaging around 9:30 min/mile.
I do know for myself that if I clock in too often at a ten minute mile, my body is tired and shouldn’t be running. However, there are days where I feel like running at that pace so sometimes, it’s a judgment call that only you can make.
Sometimes I run knowing that I can push myself a bit more but I don’t even bother.
I am not seriously training for anything and if you asked me to run a half marathon this weekend, I know that I could easily do it and even consider a PR.
Would I like to run a half marathon just under 1:45 which would be a new PR for me? Sure. But I don’t run all of the time thinking about it.
While I do talk often about pushing yourself in terms of motivation to get out there, I don’t think it is smart to overpush your pace.
There’s a difference between running hard, running comfortably hard and overdoing it.
I try to avoid the overdoing it.
Let’s talk mileage:
There’s that 10% rule for a reason. Suddenly going from ten miles a week to thirty miles a week is a guaranteed way to get injured.
You should never increase your mileage more than 10% any given week.
I didn’t wake up running forty miles a week. I didn’t read someone’s blog, take note of their weekly mileage and strive to exceed it.
I slowly went from three miles a day to four miles a day to one day having six miles a day as a routine daily run.
My long run started at three miles. It slowly progressed over months, if not years, to where I am now.
Running too fast and running too many miles too quickly has been known to injure people and I don’t want to be one of those people. If that means I only run forty miles a week with an average pace in the nine minute mile range, I can certainly live with that.
It’s no secret that I honor my sweet tooth and never deny a craving. However, I also pack my diet with the nutrient dense stuff that my muscles really enjoy for endurance and recovery.
I also make it a point to eat within 30-60 minutes following a run. This window is crucial.
On the extremely random occasion that I miss this window, I feel the difference. I get a headache, my muscles are stiffer and my recovery later in the day and even into the next morning absolutely suffers.
Refueling with a mix of protein, complex carbs and fat is key to restoring your glycogen and blood sugar levels as well as giving your muscles what to work with in order to rebuild stronger for the next day.
You can certainly try to limit your carbs and caloric intake while simultaneously trying to build up your mileage and pace but I cannot see how doing all of that will give you much success, let alone keep you injury free for long.
Your muscles need fuel. Your body does lots of stuff on top of your running and survives on the food you give it.
And you need water. Are you drinking enough water? Add a glass to that answer.
*I Get My Period*
How many times do I need to say that a healthy menstrual cycle is a good sign of a healthy body?
Did you know that not having a regular menstrual cycle leaves you more susceptible to injuries, stress fractures and guess what else – osteoporosis.
Trust me. I understand that life seems easier when your calendar doesn’t run by a 28 day cycle but when your hormones aren’t circulating, rising, falling and giving you a need for tampons, your body is basically telling you things are not okay.
I have dealt with amenorrhea which we have talked about a lot already so I will just give one more point on the subject:
I didn’t need to stop exercising. I didn’t need to decrease my intensity or consider less mileage (not that I ran as much as now when I didn’t get a normal cycle but just go with this for a minute).
The problem came about because I was not giving my body the amount of energy (calories) it required to expend the amount of energy (exercise) I desired.
Even if you think you are fine and it doesn’t matter because you don’t want to have a baby right now, it’s not fine.
Just because you don’t see the effects of not having a regular cycle on the outside does not mean your insides aren’t screaming all out of whack about to snap or twist or fracture or sprain.
I got real lucky back in the day to not hurt myself. It’s not something I would want to toy with again.
I hate being so brutal about this topic but sometimes, until you read it in black and white, you don’t see the severity of the issue.
*Rest & Recover*
Not only do I make sure to lay down for a bit after a hard run, I always recover with my Pro Compression Calf Sleeves.
Some products are just gimics and then some products really work. There’s a major difference in how my legs feel after recovering in my Pro Compression calf sleeves compared to the days before I started using them.
I also make sure to sleep a good seven to eight hours a night. Of course some nights are less but plenty are more.
*Ignorance Is Not Bliss*
Sometimes I am all for keeping my head in the sand but not when it comes to my running.
If I feel something…anything…a twinge, a tightness…the start of a soreness….I attempt to find the root of the issue.
Is it my shoe? Is it time for a new pair? Did I run too many days in a row? Did I sleep funny? Did I forget to eat a sweet potato? Do I need pineapple?
I can usually figure out the issue and nip it in the bud fairly quickly.
I guess the point I am trying to make here is that I don’t push through pain or discomfort.
I know the difference in me when it’s simply a matter of loosening up and when it’s a matter of STOP.
Other random runner tidbits about me:
I don’t foam roll. Maybe I should but I don’t.
I do stretch but nothing crazy.
I do crosstrain but probably not enough.
Does Pure Barre help to keep my muscles working and injuries at bay? Maybe. I like to think so.
Protein bars are not a regular part of my diet; I like Skoop but don’t drink shakes and smoothies as my recovery meals.
I rarely eat pasta.
I don’t get sick often at all (knock on wood again!) but on the rare occasion that I do, if it’s more than a slight cold, I don’t push myself to run. If I don’t feel well, how the heck could I possibly run?!
I am not a big drinker. A glass or two of wine on occasion but it’s not on my regular menu.
I fuel with jelly beans or raisins during my long runs but truly wonder if they help or just taste nice.
Could it be genetics?
I don’t really know.
I mean, my dad was a runner. A three-time New York City Marathoner along with a crazy amount of random Long Island races and half marathons.
He also has terrible-horrendous-awful-need-to-be replaced knees and a runner’s toe (we still don’t know what that means but we let him say he has one) and did the absolute opposite of everything I have listed above.
I really don’t know if there is a tried and true way to stay injury free.
I think it’s more of a routine to follow for yourself. To know your limits. To know what is healthy and probably what’s not such a good idea. To not look to be some hero and not care so much about hitting a pace before you are capable or hitting it too often that you are overdoing it.
And then maybe walk around with a rabbit’s foot or a crystal in your pocket to bring you some extra luck.
If you ever have a question, please feel free to email me, I may not have the answer but I do love to ramble on and chat anyway!
Are you superstitious?
Favorite post-run recovery meal?
Do you do anything in particular to help prevent injuries?