7 Running Rules to Apply to Avoid Injury

If you want to gain long-term enjoyment in running, there are certain rules you need to follow to prevent injury or getting burnt out.

As a chiropractor, I often see patients come in with injuries that could have been prevented if the following rules were adhered to. Though some injuries are unavoidable, more often than not you can prepare yourself for a race or a fun run where you come away pain and injury-free. A long, rewarding running history can be yours by doing the following:

1. Do What Fits You

Running is supposed to be an activity characterized by freedom. There are no hard-knock rules in running if you stick to your own goals and not others’. You can simply stride off when you run, overrunning all others in your group, or simply take things slow, setting your own space and pace. The best thing to keep in mind is to focus on your endurance and previous training goals and not push yourself harder based on somebody else’s level.

2. Focus on Your Targeted Pace

Almost all fun runs or marathon races have crowded starting lines, so you can just imagine the competition. The important thing is to aim for a pace that fits you, and one that you’ve already worked with. This way, you are meeting the goal you set for yourself in the race. Often, you’ll find on race day that the endorphins kick your pace up a notch. To avoid overdoing it and burning out, or getting injured, ensure you stay near your set pace – sometimes allowing yourself to go a little over, but always staying in competition with yourself only.

3. Avoid Distractions While Running

There are many things that can distract a runner, especially on race day – other people or runners chatting, music from your iPod, or just spectator and scenery-watching while you run. Distractions can quickly lead to injury. Be aware of this for any race or new running terrain you’re on. Pay extra attention to your environment and always take notice of cracks or changing surfaces on your path.

4. No Pets While Running

Pets can be a hazard when running, especially during a large race or a fun run event. It is in fact discouraged by many event organizers, because it’s likely that they will block the way of the other runners and might even give them a trip or two. You can’t predict if a dog will get distracted or react differently to new people or a new environment. Keep your pet at home to avoid injury to yourself or others.

5. Take Extra Precautions

Several aid stations are located on both sides of the road during many races; however, it would be best to have an extra ounce of prevention to avoid possible accidents and injuries while running. If you feel like your body is hurting, not feeling like it usually does, or your energy is particularly low, adjust your pace down and know that this is the best thing you can do for yourself. While you love the feeling of beating your old time or reaching a record time, it’s not worth injuring yourself. There will be plenty of opportunities to run another day. You can’t always predict when your body will be “off” of normal, so it’s best to just roll with it and take it easy when your body tells you it hurts or is exhausted.

6. Stretch and then stretch again

Many people have come to resent the sometimes stagnant-feeling of stretching; however this one task can help prevent pain and injury tremendously. Make sure you stretch the large muscle groups such as your: calves, thighs, hamstrings (back of legs) and even your arms, before and after running. This can be as quick as taking 5 minutes to do; just do it and you’ll be better off than most.

7. Just Make it to the Finish Line

While a new record time looks like a bright, shiny reward that you want so badly, just appreciate that you’re doing what most people cannot or will not ever do. Learn to love yourself and all of the work and dedication you’ve made towards your sport and your health. You can do this by appreciating the finish line at any pace/time you arrive. Finish off what you began and still have your strong, healthy body, and injury-free at the end of the race. You’ll be so happy you did it this way and will be inspired to keep up at your sport, because of your success. Just make it to the finish line your way!

Many people find themselves getting hurt during race day. Don’t find yourself with injuries at the end of what could be a great day. Take these tips and stay true to your body and the reachable goals you set for yourself, and you’ll be at a great pace.