2 Ways to Avoid 80% of Running InjuriesJul 28, 2022
Runners are known for often falling victim to “too much too soon” injuries.
These injuries can hinder a runner’s performance for long periods of time, keeping them from training for their next PR. If you are training for a marathon, half marathon, or any endurance event, it is important to train and build an aerobic base safely to avoid these overuse injuries. While these injuries may vary in location and intensity, they usually all share the same cause: overuse.
80% of all running injuries can be attributed to overuse - especially in newer runners. Our bodies are very adaptable, as long as we give them the time and training to do so. However, a lot of athletes are eager to jump into training plans with a high workload when their bodies just may not be ready for it yet. Training optimally is a difficult concept to balance for runners because runners need volume to optimize performance, and while we want to get the most out of our training, we don’t want to cross that line of doing too much.
The balance it requires to optimize a runner’s performance along with high occurrence of these overuse injuries can be frightening for athletes looking to get into the sport. This shows just how important managing load and progression is when it comes to running. If you are serious about your running performance but continue to battle these injuries, consulting a running coach or a strength and conditioning expert may be the best option to help you get over the hump.
However, there are 2 rules that can help athletes progress their training loads appropriately on their own. These rules are just general guidelines that an athlete can use to help them make sure that they are not progressing too quickly and keep them at a low risk for obtaining an overuse injury.
- The 10% Rule
The 10% rule states that a runner should not progress their mileage by more than 10% each week. For example, let’s say a runner ran 20 miles this week. 10% of 20 is 2, so by this rule, the runner should run up to but no more than 22 miles the following week. This rule is more applicable for runners running between 20-40 miles per week already, as the increases in weekly mileage are very minimal for a runner who may be running single-digit weekly mileage.
- The 80/20 Rule
This rule states that of all the miles that you run in one week, 80% should be done at a lower intensity (ideally less than 70% of your max heart rate) and that 20% should be done at a higher intensity (ideally greater than 70% of your max heart rate). A common mistake a lot of runners make is running too many miles at a high intensity. Higher intensity workouts require a longer recovery period, and if we are constantly stressing our bodies with these high workloads, we are likely not giving ourselves enough time to recover.
It is important to understand that these rules are general guidelines designed to help avoid overuse injuries. For example, when discussing training for optimal performance for a 5k, we may want to bend the 80/20 rule quite a bit depending on the athlete’s fitness and where they are at in their training. Nevertheless, these rules are a great place to start if you are a runner looking to build volume while avoiding an overuse injury.
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