Every running magazine and website seem to list their top ways to recover from a specific running injuries like plantar fasciitis or shin splints. However, too few of these same websites ever seem to talk about the “secrets” of preventing running injuries.
These injury prevention secrets are the tricks and tips that elite runners use to manage huge volume (130+ miles per week) and high training intensity.
The surprising part, is that these “secrets” aren’t rocket science or some ancient-long-lost secret supplement or even the latest high tech gadget being promoted at the race expo…
What’s the number #1 secret for preventing running injuries?
Its proper recovery
I know that doesn’t seem like earth-shattering news, but its fundamentally true. In fact, I would argue that most running injuries are not really “overtraining” injuries, but actually due to “under-recovery.”
Let the concept of “under recovery” sink in for a moment (or several moments if you are stubborn injury prone runner). Unless your latest running-related injury was from tripping over the curb and spraining your ankle, it’s due to your body not recovering properly and fully from your run training.
This recovery training secret is the key concept that elite runners and other endurance athletes follow EVERY DAY, both before and after their workouts.
I would see this training secret first hand with elite triathletes when we would travel to international races. After arriving in whatever city was hosting the race, checking into the hotel and figuring out when some of the training runs and swims would be scheduled, the athletes didn’t spend the majority of their time sightseeing or walking the city.
They spent it recovering and resting in their hotel rooms.
Sleep was the first and most important recovery aid used by these elite athletes. Most of them would sleep on average 10 to 11 hours per night. That meant an early bedtime and sleeping in late. Most of them didn’t bother with alarm clocks, but allowed their body to tell them when to walk up.
You’d also find these same elite athletes taking a mid-afternoon nap to continue to aid in their recovery.
HYDRATION AND NUTRITION
Proper hydration and nutrition is also vitally important to allow the body to properly recover. Staying hydrated before, during and after workouts as well as planning ahead for meals allows your body to recover from the stress of the workouts (as well as international travel)
SOFT TISSUE WORK
Massage and other bodywork techniques such as ART (Active Release Technique) are also used by elite athletes to help recover and to help prevent injuries from popping up. Our sports chiropractor and massage therapists were always busy every day working with athletes to proactively head off any running injuries.