What is the Secret to Staying Run Injury Free?

For many triathletes, the majority of their injuries are due to the running component.  What is the main cause of running injuries? Misadaptation.  Misadaptation can be broken down into three components.

1)      Mechanical stress caused by training errors.  Roughly 80% of all running injuries are due to running too much too soon. 

2)      Intrinsic factors which include biomechanics, muscle dysfunction, tissue weakness, stress and fatigue. 

3)      Extrinsic factors which include footwear, running surface and medications. 


The main strategy to decrease your chances of getting injured is ensuring adaptation.  For mechanical stress, changes have to be gradual.  One of the main ways to make sure you aren’t doing too much too soon is to have a coach prescribe and monitor your training volume. 


The body adapts as long as the applied stress is not greater than its capacity to adapt.  Applied stress include speed, mileage, uphill, downhill, changing terrain, and an increase in other activities.  Factors that influence your capacity include sleep, depression, medication, stress, and nutrition.  Your capacity can change daily.  Stressed with school?  Stayed up late finishing an assignment?  Your tolerance to applied stress will be lower.  How do you know if your tolerance is lower? LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  The first signs of overloading pain during running, pain after running, and morning stiffness.


How do you get faster while staying injury free?

A minimal stress is needed to create adaptations.  If training under this minimal stress, you will “lose it.”  An example of this would be taking a couple months off from running.  You may have maintained your cardiovascular fitness by cross training, but you have “lost” your physiological fitness to run the same mileage as before.  Ten minutes of running is equivalent to approximately 1,800 steps, or 1,800 “impacts.”  No other sport would expect you to increase your reps by 1,800.  This is why the build up post injury can be rather tedious. 

Your body as a maximal capacity to sustain mechanical stress.  If you are constantly overloading your body by overtraining, you decrease your ability recover and will be unable to tolerate the same amount.  Your speed will decrease and you will struggle to finish the same amount of mileage.

Staying between the minimal and maximal stress lines ensures proper adaption and proper recovery = faster running.  


Test your knowledge with these running myths:

Running leads to joint damage.

False – Runners have increase knee cartilage strength.


Running leads to hip and knee osteoarthritis.

False – Runners are 4x less likely to have OA than non-runners.


Running is bad for your back

False – Runners have stronger and thicker spinal discs.