Regardless of your sport, speed is important. If you can do it faster, you can most likely do it better.
For a runner, foot speed is vital to performance. While part of what determines a runner's speed is genetic, there are components to quickness that can be learned.
But all the speedwork in the world doesn't help if it leaves a runner sore, achy and too injured to perform on race day.
A runner looking to improve his/her pace must learn to take on speedwork in a safe and calculated manner in order to avoid injury. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the most common speedwork running injuries, and how you can avoid them during your training.
Why Speedwork Can Cause Injuries
Running puts a lot of stress on bones, joints and muscles. If speed training is not prescribed appropriately, all that stress can cause injuries.
Some injuries caused by speedwork sessions are traumatic, like twisting an ankle, but according to the University of California, San Diego Medical Department of Sports Medicine (UCSDMDSM), others are caused when "you have exceeded your training limits, causing your muscles, joints or bones to absorb more contact/force than they can handle, which over time, leads to pain and dysfunction."
What is an Overuse Injury?
An overuse injury is caused when training limits have been exceeded. Most often, an "inappropriate or rapid increase in the volume or intensity of an activity" is the culprit, according to UCSDMDSM.
Other times, overuse injuries occur because a runner does not have enough strength or flexibility, leading to muscle imbalances. Poor biomechanics or improper technique, a change in running surfaces, and ill-fitting or non-supportive shoes can also spell trouble for a runner.