Outdoor Activities Part II: Preventing Running Injuries for Those New to Running

Outdoor Activities (While maintaining social distancing) – Part II
Preventing Running Injuries for Those New to Running

This blog post is aimed at those who are picking up running for the first time, or those getting back into running after a long hiatus. Since there are so few barriers to running, it’s very easy to get overexcited and accelerate quickly from running your first kilometer to training for a marathon. While it’s great to be excited about running, it’s important to watch out for injuries. Running is a pretty high impact repetitive sport, which means there’s a high risk for injuries if you aren’t careful. Injuries can really set you back, either keeping you bound to the couch for weeks or requiring painful work to get back to your baseline. This can be really hard both physically, and emotionally. Serious injuries may also require medical consultation, which of course is the worst case scenario at a time like this. As such, prevention is key.

A person standing on top of a sandy beach

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U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Tabitha Kuykendall/Released

I’m not going to go into details about all the different types of injuries and different exercises to avoid these, but rather do a high level guide of things that should be considered for those starting out. Please remember that running injuries are often multi-faceted, and so a multi-faceted approach to injury prevention is often important!

  • Know the difference between soreness and pain

It’s normal to feel sore when working out muscles you haven’t in a while, or when pushing your body to new limits. This is good and means that you’re making progress. It’s not normal to feel sharp pain that is debilitating, reoccurring, and/or lingering longer that you expect it to. This may be an early sign of an injury coming on. If you feel like you’re in pain after a run, consider dialing it back, taking more rest, or going through some of the prevention strategies below!

  • Get adequate running shoes.

You don’t need to buy vaporfly’s (the shoes Kipchoge wore to break the marathon world record), but it is important to wear a proper pair of running shoes. Running in shoes not mean for running can lead to a weird stride that predisposes you to injuries. Similarly, if you’re running very long distances, consider getting shoes designed for long distance. The impact of the thousands of steps you take can really add up if you don’t have the proper footwear.

  • Don’t accelerate training too quickly.

While it seems weird that I would have to say don’t exercise too much, running can be addictive. Especially in times like this when there may not be much else to do, you may find yourself quickly running more and more than you ever imagined. While your mind may be up for the challenge, take a pause and let your body get use to the new stressors it’s facing. Knowing what “too quick” means is different for everyone and can be hard to generalize, but if you notice pain starting to set in that’s a bad sign.

  • Don’t forget stretching, strength training, and nutrition

There’s a lot written and also a lot of controversy around all three of these topics. I’ll keep it simple for your sake and my own sake. Generally, it can be helpful to engage in activities other than running to: 1. strengthen and stretch your body so that it it’s better prepared for running; and 2. prevent injuries from the shear repetitive nature of running (no matter how you look at it, stepping foot over foot thousands of times puts you at risk). A balanced diet also never hurt anyone.

Sylvie Bowden
Written in collaboration with Kelvin Ng