10 Tips for Injury-Free Running

7. Rein it in! Avoid overstriding. Work on a foot landing that's more underneath your torso. This allows your body (ankles, knees, and hips) to work more like a shock absorber. This also allows more of a mid-foot (flat-foot) or forefoot landing which allows you to work with the pavement not against it. Having more of a mid-foot or forefoot landing allows you to push off the ground instead of pulling-then-pushing which happens when you strike the ground with your heel out in front of the body. This heel-striking causes a breaking effect instead of allowing your body to work like a shock absorber. This breaking effect can jar the knees and hips.

8. Lean baby, lean! Increase your pace by leaning forward from the ankle (not the hips). The subtle forward lean will increase your pace without widening your stride. Don't believe me? Try it. You'll be amazed. Adding the lean not only will help increase your pace, but it will do it with less muscle activation, which means less energy used, which means fatigue takes longer to set in.

9. Do more than run. Adding full-body (lower-body, core, and upper-body) muscular endurance circuit training will help you build muscles that will endure and support you on your runs, particularly your long runs. Running really is about 50 percent lower-body and 50 percent upper body. The stronger (muscular endurance-wise) your core and upper-body are the longer you'll offset fatigue. Think lighter weights, more reps (12 to 15) and less rest between sets. Remember you're shooting for the Ryan Hall and Josh Cox look, not Arnold Schwarzenegger.

10. Sort it! Plagued by nagging aches and pains but can't seem to pin point the cause? Then track your runs on a spreadsheet. Create columns for each type of run you do (trail, road), weather conditions, your various shoes, time of day (morning, midday, afternoon). Next, add columns for other factors such as if you fueled pre- and post-run, stretched  pre- and post-run. Then add columns for aches and pains (sore knees, sore ankles, sore hips, etc.) Finally add columns that rate the run (Great, Mediocre, Horrible, etc.).  For each run, put a check mark in each column that applies to that run. Do this for about four weeks. Then sort the data by the aches-n-pains columns. For example, do a sort by "Sore Knees" Then look at all the runs that caused your knees to be sore. What other common factors pop up? Did you wear an old pair of running shoes for each run? Was each run on a route with a lot of concrete? Did you forget to stretch before each of the "sore knee" runs? This will quickly help you see patterns in your running that you can avoid or try to repeat.


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