Step 1: Determine why that area causes problems. Usually it's either inflexible, weak or has leftover scar tissue from previous injuries. A good therapist can help you determine the cause. Step 2 (here's the hard part): Commit to a daily routine of fixing the issue. Yes, I said daily.
My weak link is my lower left leg. So, every day I use the foam roller and massage roller for 10 to 20 passes up and down the lower leg. I also work on flexibility, with specific stretches for the muscles on the front, side and back. In total, this takes me 2 to 3 minutes, an amount of time we can all agree to find in each day. Oh, and I keep these massage tools right beside my desk so when I need a break from sitting, I know just how I can occupy my time.
The bottom line is that if we all just did a little preventative maintenance on the area each day—and winter is the perfect time to start—we could keep the injury bug at bay. Hate being injured? Then fix your weak link.
Running Tip 3: More Oxygen Please
When you run fast, you breathe faster because your muscles need more oxygen. So, a goal for all runners should be to increase oxygen delivery and, believe it or not, winter is the perfect time to do just that.
Winter running is often slower running due to the weather and compromised footing. Many runners stress out about the slower pace and worry that they are losing fitness. They need not worry. Slow running is a great way to boost your ability to use oxygen.
Any time you run at an easy pace, you are improving your ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles. The heart ejects more blood with each beat, you grow more arteries (called capillaries) that surround your muscles and deliver oxygen-rich blood, and you grow more mitochondria (the energy plants within the muscles). Heck, you might even be able to run a few more miles per week in the winter since your pace is slower.
All of these adaptations improve your ability to use oxygen more efficiently and, when running slowly, you strengthen your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones, which will keep you injury free. All good stuff for runners, so learn to be OK with slowing down in the winter. Just tell yourself you're doing it for the oxygen.