Spring Running: 5 Ways to Run Healthy and Injury-Free

  • 4 min read

Author: Pure Physio


Fire up the grills and clean up the clutter, Spring is here! While it’s still a bit chilly, around this time of year is when you typically start to see more and more runners spilling out onto the roads like bears awakening from a good winter’s slumber. However, an increase in running goes hand in hand with an increase in the prevalence of injuries.

Remaining injury-free as a runner requires a balance between training, recovery, and proper programming. Here are five ways to remain injury-free this spring:

  1. Ease back into it

  2. Start a training log

  3. Utilize the warm-up/cool-down

  4. Basic maintenance

  5. Continue with strength/cross-training

Keep reading for further explanation on each of these points! ⬇️

Ease back into it

This is my #1 tip and for good reason. When discussing the topic of injury prevention, acute:chronic workload ratiosshould always be considered. Essentially, the more total volume of training completed in a shorter time frame, or the higher the acute training load in comparison to what we normally do training wise, the more likely we are to become injured. Transitioning from low to high mileage too quickly can result in a plethora of issues including IT band syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy, anterior knee pain, etc.That’s why it’s so important to ease back into training after long periods of detraining.

Try the 10% rule...a simple & effective formula for adding more miles back into your running regimen. Simply add no more than 10 percent per week to your total weekly mileage.

Start a training log

As mentioned earlier, gradually increasing mileage and intensity is one of the most important factors to consider in terms of both performance and injury prevention. Keeping track of your daily/weekly/monthly volume, nutritional recordings, and subjective information, such as how you’re feeling day to day, will allow you to take a step back and accurately assess your training. 

What gets measured, gets managed.

Keeping a detailed recording of your daily training will help track daily/weekly/monthly and allow us to look back to find trends or spikes in training volume. This is essential when planning training for the future, or when monitoring for signs of overtraining. It also helps you stay accountable and motivated to reach your goals.

Utilize the warm-up/cool-down

A majority of the running injuries that I see and work with are a result of not adequately priming and/or down-regulating our systems.

Warm-up:

Before going for a run, our body needs to be prepared for the toll that running will take. The muscles that need to be awake (glutes, core, calves, shoulders, etc.) are often “sleepy”, and need to be jump-started in order to perform effectively while running. A diligent warm-up should get the blood flowing, heat up soft tissue around your calves and feet, activate the stabilizing musculature, and prime your nervous system.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your program.

Cool-down:

Post-run, the body is still in a heightened state of “come at me bro.”

The last thing you want to do is go straight from your run, take a quick shower, and sit the rest of the day without any sort of transition period.

Instead, perform a post-run cool-down consisting of 5-10 minutes of walking/jogging  with a focus on breathing to help down-regulate your systems. Follow that up with some mobility work and light stretching, again with a focus on breathing and “throttling down.” Hydrate with some NOOMA and refuel with a combination carbohydrate-protein food to polish it all off.


Basic Maintenance

Running is great for the body, until it isn’t. It’s inevitable that over time, a runner will develop tightness, aches, and pains. However, these can often be alleviated and treated without running to a MD or popping pain meds.

By listening to your body and addressing its needs, we create a system of maintenance and prevention rather than treatment and rehab.

Heel cords feeling super tight after yesterday’s long run? It’s probably a good idea to spend a few extra minutes mobilizing and foam rolling while you watch re-runs of “How I Met Your Mother.”

It doesn’t take an hour-long session of yoga to be considered basic maintenance and for you to continue to perform at your best. Take 5-10 minutes daily, with intent and focus to honor what your body is saying to you.

Continue with strength/cross-training

The specificity rule of training tells us that in order to be better at our given sports, we need to train at that sport. So yes, the surest way to run better is to run, and if your time is limited, devote most of it to running. However, the fastest and most robust runners are the ones who are better overall athletes, and not just runners.

Poor preparation -> poor form -> increased stress -> potential for injury

To quote Gray Cook, from his book “Movement”, "The enhanced efficiency gained by two weeks of mobility and stability corrective exercises and calisthenics targeting weak links will FAR outweigh any microscopic loss in metabolic efficiency.”

This is why it’s so essential to incorporate strength training and cross-training into running programs. The goal is build stronger and more injury-resistant runners that are able to tap into power when needed for performance. The only way to build these runners is through strength training. It’s not possible to get stronger through just running.

Overall, running should be thought of a skill and appreciated for the high-level sport that it truly is. In order to continue to participate in this sport without the unwanted side-effects of injury and overtraining, we must blend the aforementioned tips into our programs and training protocols.

Take these tips, apply them, and enjoy your running!

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