For a runner, there's nothing more frustrating than getting injured. Whether it's a nagging pain that creeps up time and again or a new issue that seemingly came out of nowhere, being sidelined can be even more agonizing than the ailment itself.
To remedy your injury and prevent it from happening in the future, it's important to determine what caused it in the first place. While overtraining (running longer and/or more often than your body is ready for) is often to blame, it's not always the culprit. If you've been following a sensible training plan but still can't stay healthy, here are five possible reasons why.
You're Wearing Bad Shoes
It may seem that there are nearly as many different shoe types as there are runners, but that's for good reason: There is no "best" type of running shoe because runners all have different types of feet. Neutral, stability, motion control, foot-shaped, minimalist, high-cushioning--the choices can be overwhelming, but it's important that you find the right type, and fit, for you.
Speaking of fit, did you know that you should probably be running in a shoe a half size bigger than your street shoes? That's because the motion of running causes your foot to move slightly inside your shoe, which can cause your toes to repeatedly bump up against the front of the shoe unless you give them a little more room. If you get sore or black toenails or hot spots or blisters anywhere on your feet after a reasonable break-in period, you're probably running in too small a shoe. To find the right size and type of running shoe, consult with a professional at your local running shoe store.
Finally, your shoes could be too old. Even though the tread may look perfectly fine, the cushioning in your shoes may be shot after 200 to 300 miles, depending on your bodyweight and stride mechanics. Your shoes are certainly dead after 500 miles no matter who you are. If you're experiencing shin splints, knee pain or hip pain with no clear cause, your first step might be treating yourself to a new pair of well-fitting shoes.
Learn More: The Spring Shoe Guide
You're Running Too Fast
Even if your weekly mileage is in the healthy range, too many speed workouts or getting too ambitious with your pace can lead to injury. Running too fast makes you particularly susceptible to hamstring pulls and tears, but too many intense workouts in your schedule can also lead to tendonitis, runner's knee and other common injuries. Play it safe by increasing pace slowly and limiting yourself to one or two speed workouts per 10-day period. Also be sure to never do strides or sprint intervals until you are thoroughly warmed up.