How to stay injury free during training

Nothing is worse for a runner than hitting the peak of your training plan, only to find yourself sidelined from injury. Fortunately, there are a few steps that runners can take to prevent injuries from occurring.

How to stay injury free during training

1. Find the right shoes

The right shoes aren't always the prettiest. Although those neon pink and yellow ones might catch your eye, it's what's inside that counts. Different shoes are designed to support different feet. Over-pronators -- people who roll their feet inwards when they walk -- might need a stability shoe that helps guide the foot into a better landing position.

Heavier runners may require more cushioning, whereas lightweights might find that minimalist shoes are all they need. There are hundreds of different brands and models of shoes, and the right one can encourage proper form.

Your local running store should be able to perform a gait analysis and point you in the right direction.

2. Make rest a priority

It can be hard to convince a runner to take a day off. But rest days allow your body to recover, build muscle, and tackle those challenging workouts. Active recovery after a hard workout -- for example, running a few easy kilometres the day after a tough speed work session may be beneficial, but at least one day each week should be a dedicated rest day.

3. Watch your form

Form can be difficult to master. Swinging your arms too far around your body, landing with a heel strike, and extending your foot too far forwards are the marks of poor form. Aim to land with your foot directly below your knee, and hit the ground towards the middle of the foot, instead of at the heel.

If you're struggling, ask a friend to record you during a run. Afterwards, analyze the footage and determine if there's anything you should change.

4. Run hard in moderation

Going along with the idea of rest days, don't push yourself too hard during every workout. Speed work is hard on the body, and should only be done when you have a solid foundation to build on. Tempo runs, interval training, hill work, and progression runs are all important when it comes to getting faster, but they shouldn't take up more than one to two days of your training each week.

Injury is an inevitable part of any runner's career, but careful attention to form, adequate rest, proper footwear, and staying smart about speed work will help keep you off the sidelines.

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