two runners at sunsetWhile fad workouts come and go, running has endured as a popular way to stay fit. Running is convenient, can be done almost anywhere, and doesn’t require a membership fee to participate! However, if you are new to running, it’s important to know proper methods to avoid injury. New runners are known to have a higher instance of injury than veteran athletes, which means it’s important to know ahead of time what causes injuries and how to avoid them.

What Causes Injuries in New Runners

Why are new runners more likely to be injured? There are several reasons—first, a lack of information. New runners don’t always know about proper foot support in shoes, the impact of running on different surfaces, the importance of a correct gait, and how your body withstands an increased level of activity. From purchasing footwear to choosing terrain, there are many things to think about. Here are some tips to get you started.

Vary Your Running Routine

One way to avoid a running injury is to switch up your runs. One of the most common injuries new runners experience is a simple case of overuse. When a muscle, tendon, or bone gets overworked from repetitive motion, it can lead to issues. Instead, try switching up the impact on your body by running on different surfaces. A neighborhood road and a school track are two examples of places to run to vary the level of strain on your body. You can also train at different paces and varying distances.

Build Up Slowly

Many people expect to go straight from sitting on the couch to running a marathon. This is an unrealistic goal that is likely to cause injury. Training for long-distance running isn’t effective over a few weeks—it is a long-term commitment that takes time to be successful. Start out with short and easy runs and slowly build up to further and more intense sessions. If you are not in pain or very sore after a run, that means you can likely ramp up your intensity and distance next time.

Good Shoes Are a Must

It might seem like expensive running shoes are a racket, but in reality, it is actually quite important to invest in quality footwear. When it’s time to replace your running shoes, look for quality construction that will support you well. Avoid online shopping. Go into a store for a proper, professional fitting. A podiatrist is an excellent resource for selecting the right pair of running shoes because they have a deep understanding of the foot’s structure, how the feet respond to the impact of running, and how you can protect yourself from injury.

Don’t Forget to Cross-train

The best runners don’t just run. Those with a decent amount of experience know that a good routine includes stretching and cardiovascular workouts to increase your endurance without overworking the same muscles you use for running.

Take Rest Days

Your body needs time to recover. Don’t run seven days a week. Instead, schedule intentional rest time into your week. Even on your off days, take some time to stretch and keep your body moving minimally, but avoid intense activity every single day.

Make Friends

Join a running group or invite a friend to start training with you. The more you get connected to the running world, the more tips and tricks you’ll learn. You will also have greater accountability to ensure you are pushing yourself to meet your goals in a healthier way than you might if you are doing it alone.

Set Realistic Goals

Choose a goal that you will be able to meet. Running a 5K is an attainable goal as long as you leave yourself enough time to train and build up to it. Don’t sign up for a race that is happening two weekends after you start to train. Set small, frequent goals instead of one large challenge that you are bound to fall short of and end up feeling bad about yourself.

Signs You Should See a Podiatrist

If you are hoping to start a regular running routine, it is a good idea to consult with a professional. The podiatrists at InStride Carolina Podiatry have great advice for both new and veteran runners. While it’s wise to reach out to a podiatrist prior to starting a new physical activity that will strongly affect the feet, you should definitely schedule an appointment if:

  • You are planning to greatly increase the frequency or intensity of your runs.
  • You are planning to complete in races.
  • You feel an unusual soreness during or after you run.
  • You sense any sort of strain or injury. Don’t put off injury treatment. Take care of a minor injury immediately so it doesn’t progress into something that can cause serious damage.

Contact us today to get started on your journey toward physical fitness through a safe and effective plan.