Running is one of the most convenient of all sports.
All you need is a pair of decent shoes, and there you go.
But it’s also high impact. As a matter of fact, staying healthy while running— avoiding discomfort, pain, and injury —is no easy feat.
Fret no more.
After a decade learning a lot about the sport, I’ve concluded that pain-free training comes down to implementing a few strategies.
In this article, you’ll learn more about some of these running rules. Apply them today, and you’ll reduce the risks of injury, increase your comfort, and make running as smooth as possible.
So, are you excited?
Then here we go.
Respect the 10 percent rule
Beginners, or those coming back to running after a long layoff, pay attention.
In essence, most running-related pains and injuries can be boiled down to doing too much running too soon.
That’s the classic mistake many runners make.
Here is the truth.
Your body needs plenty of time to adapt to higher loads. That’s why, when it comes to dodging running injury, it’s critical to ease yourself into running, then increase the load slowly over several months.
And by far, the best way to do so is via the 10 percent principle.
Let me unpack this golden running rule.
The Main 10 Percent Premise
The 10PR states that you should never increase your training volume (regarding time or distance) by more than 10 percent from one week to the next.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the bulk of running injuries is overuse conditions.
They, in general, happen when you run too much too soon, drastically increase your weekly training load
The 10 percent rule makes it virtually impossible to overdo it.
How to Determine Rate of Increase
First, make a note of your current weekly mileage, then add 10 percent to the number. The next week, do the same.
For example, if you run 12 miles per week, shoot for 13 or 13.5 miles next.
This might seem like slow progress, but after a couple of months, you’ll be running 20 miles or more a week, which is way more miles than Week One.
New Comers Be Careful
if you’re taking up running for the first time, the 10 percent rule is not something you should follow until your body is ready.
Instead, as a newbie, keep your weekly training volume the same for the first 4 to 6 weeks.
Focus on training (walking, run/walking, or jogging) consistently, and do not try to push yourself, even if you feel like you can do more.
Increase distance and/or time once you can run comfortably for 20 to 30 minutes without much huffing and puffing.
Listen to Your Body
My blog is full of practical training tips guaranteed to help you reach your running/fitness goals.
But If I had to boil it down to one principle, paying attention to your body while training is the cardinal rule.
What To Listen To?
Here’s the truth: Running injuries do not happen overnight. They don’t just come out of nowhere and blindside you.
They come with warning signs, such as soreness, aches, discomfort, and persistent pain.
But it’s up to you to make the right changes.
If you experience any sort of tenderness or pain that persists during a run, consider reducing the intensity, distance, or frequency of your training.
In most cases, taking a few days off is the only way to heal your pain. Do not let your ego stand in your way.
As your symptoms get better, return to your normal training load the next day, but pay attention to your body both during and after training.
Don’t get me wrong. To improve, you need to regularly step out (and run) out of your comfort zone. This means getting uncomfortable, but not all running pains are the same.
Let me explain.
Productive Vs. Nonproductive Pain
Running pain comes in two forms: productive pain and unproductive pain.
The key lies in telling them apart. Once you can do so, you’ll be on your way to success.
Productive pain is pain that brings fitness growth and stimulates your body to adapt. It often takes the form of the usual aches in specific spots that come with running.
Experiencing low fatigue or mild soreness? Feel free to continue with your planned run.
Or, at the very least, consider modifying your schedule, or rest to accommodate your body’s needs.
On the other hand, unproductive pain is just pain that leads to nowhere but injuries and burnouts. Think of it as the warning signs of an impending injury.
That’s why you should never run through severe pain, as it could turn niggling discomfort into a debilitating injury.
Sleep For recovery
Adequate sleep is critical not only to your overall health but to running performance.
Quality sleep can speed your recovery and muscle repair, study shows.
Sleep sets up the right environment needed for optimal recovery.
During deep sleep, the pituitary gland releases large quantities of the growth hormone.
This kicks off the vital cellular processes that initiate essential processes such as muscle repair, red blood cell production, bone remodeling, glycogen restocking—all of which are critical factors for optimal recovery and performance.
That’s not the whole story. Keep reading!
Research has also revealed that sleep deprivation—spending less than six hours under the sheets per night—can lower your immunity protection by up to 50 percent. That’s a considerable margin.
I can go on and on, but I guess you get the big picture.
How Much Sleep?
Sleep needs depend on a host of elements, including training loads, fitness levels. As a general guideline, shoot for 7 to 9 hours per night. That’s the amount recommended by most experts and research.
Replace your Shoes
Conventional wisdom says that running shoes have a lifespan of 400 to 500 miles. The exact mile range depends on many factors, including training frequency, running surfaces, shoe model, weight, etc.
But, all in all, you should be replacing your running shoes once they reach that mileage range.
For example, if you are running 15 miles a week, consider changing your shoes by the fifth or sixth month mark.
This does not mean throwing them in the trash. Consider using them as casual footwear.
Keep Tabs – Know when to pull the plug
Note the date of the purchase of your shoes in your training journal so that after a few months of training, you’ll know when it’s time for a change.
Get The Right Pair
When it’s time to get a new pair, visit a specialty running store—if that’s something you don’t already do.
The staff will ask you a lot of questions and assess your shoe needs while taking into consideration your foot type and running gait.
This can help you get the right shoes to protect your joints, muscles, tendons, and bones.
Dressing for the cold
The golden rule of comfortable winter running states that you should always keep your body well covered with the right fabrics and layers, period.
Choose high-performance, synthetic fabrics.
The best running clothing is made with high-performance materials. It doesn’t have to be thick but warm easily and pull moisture away from the skin to the surface where it evaporates.
This helps keep your body dry and comfortable.
In general, your winter running wardrobe should include plenty of base layers, breathable T-shirts, tights, long-sleeve shirts, gloves, headbands or hats, and a running jacket. Consider wearing ear muff, too, if you have sensitive ears.
To prevent slipping and falling, wear traction devices on your shoes whenever roads, sidewalks, or trails have snow or ice cover. Don’t have one? Choose the safest path.
Once you have the right fabrics, learn how to layer your winter gear the right way.
The fabric next to your skin should be high-performance, sweat-wicking, and fits snugly.
This is the reason many runners wear tights for the waist down that wick moisture away from the skin to the outer layers.
Suitable fabrics include lightweight polypropylene or polyester.
The Mid Layer
For sub-freezing days, go for a mid-layer that fits loosely. This helps with insulation and, again, the transfer of moisture from the base layer away from the skin.
Think wool or polyester fleece.
The outer shell, or the third layer, should be waterproof and wind-resistant to protect you against rain, snow, and wind.
Opt for insulating fleeces, such as waterproof windbreakers and jackets.
When running in cold weather, the outer shell should be removed unless it’s raining, very windy, or snowing.
Protect Your Skin
Apply a sweat-resistant sports moisture lip balm to any hot spots prone to chapping or chaffing—mainly the lips, cheeks, and nose.
Cover Your Head
We lose up to 40 percent of body heat from our heads, research shows. To prevent heat loss, wear a hat, preferably made with synthetic, wicking material.
In freezing and windy conditions, opt for a face mask, or balaclava, or scarf for more insulation and protection.
Here’s your full guide to winter running gear.
Protect Yourself in the Heat
During summer runs, heat-induced illnesses can be a serious threat.
The first, and most common condition, is heat exhaustion.
If you run too hard and/or too long in scorching temperatures, you might come down with heat exhaustion.
The other risk is heatstroke, which is caused by an abrupt failure of the body’s thermoregulatory system.
It happens when your body is no longer capable of cooling down or lowering its body temperature.
The Warning Signs
Early warning signs of heat-induced illnesses include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Poor balance
- Lack of sweating
- Paleness or redness in the face
- Loss of consciousness in severe cases.
If you experience more than a few of these, stop running immediately, get out of the sun.
Next, cool down with a drink, preferably in an air-conditioned room.
Symptoms don’t improve in one hour? Contact a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
Remember that heat-induced illnesses can be life-threatening conditions requiring immediate emergency medical treatment.
Failure to cool down the body can lead to severe organ failure, brain damage, even death.
How to Avoid Them
Here are three helpful measures:
Unlike winter running, clothing rules for hot summer training are not that complicated.
All you have to do is wear lightweight, breathable, and sweat-wicking clothing made with UPF fabrics. The last part is the most important. You don’t want to get your skin burnt. Skin cancer risk is real.
The fewer items, the better.
Stay away from dark colors (they retain heat), and wear a hat and glasses to protect your head and face from the heat.
Also, consider sun-protective sleeves for bare arms
Run Early or Late
Reassess your running routine and timing. Try exercising earlier in the day or later in the evening, when temperatures are at their lowest. If you are a morning person, run before 9 a.m. Not a morning person, I run near sunset.
Drink plenty of water—whether you feel thirsty or not, and regardless of weather conditions.
To do that, you need to build the habit of drinking water throughout the day.
That’s, in my experience, the best way to make sure you’re drinking sufficient amounts every day.
Here are the primary rules:
- Drink before you doze off and drink first thing in the morning and before you step out of bed.
- Drink at least 12 to 20 ounces of water two hours before a run.
- Drink at least 8 ounces of water during runs lasting for more than 60 to 90 minutes.
- Do not forget about electrolytes. Sports drinks, such as Powerade, or Gatorade, are essential to consume for runs lasting an hour or longer.
For more on this, check my full guide on how to stay properly hydrated while running.
Build a robust Kinetic Chain.
A lot can be gained from running, but as a one-dimensional, high-impact sport, the sport can also create muscle imbalances or make worse ones you already have.
What is the Kinetic Chain?
To propel you forward while running, your body requires the use of a series of body parts. These include:
- The muscles of your shoulders, arms, core, hips, and legs.
- Your joints,
- Your ligaments and
- Connective tissue from your head all the way to the feet.
The link between these parts is what’s known as the kinetic chain,
Since all of your body parts are connected via joints, movement at one joint affects movement at another joint in the kinetic chain.
For example, the biomechanics of your feet influence those of the ankles.
Likewise, the biomechanics of the ankles have an impact on those of the knee, and so on and so forth.
By the same token, any lack of strength, poor coordination or movement deficiency, or anomaly in one spot may impact your whole running technique, efficiency, and economy.
For this reason, make it a rule to work on improving the mobility, strength, and efficiency of your kinetic chain. When you do so, you’ll, without a double, run faster, longer, and stay reasonably injury-free.
Here a few suggestions on how to build a stronger and more efficient kinetic chain.
- Perform three 45-60-mine total-body strength sessions per week.Good exercises include squats, deadlifts, planks, pushups, lunges, etc. Check my routine here.
- Do yoga, especially any form of Vinyasa or power yoga. Check this YouTube Channel. A good yoga session should increase strength, flexibility, and mobility in the entire body.
- Foam roll regularly.Try this routine.
If you’re serious about staying healthy and injury-free while running, then today’s article should put you on the right foot. The rest is really up to you.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.
Keep training strong.