How to increase your miles safely and stay injury free

When you first start running every run can be an achievement, you may have reached a goal every time you ran as you built from 1 min to 2 mins to 45 mins in such a short space of time; really 5k in 8 weeks? Yes 5k in 8 weeks, it’s achievable, doable, makes you feel amazing and makes you feel as though you can conquer the world.  What’s next, what’s next?

Oh but the fickle friend that is running! At some point the gains you made in the first 8 weeks are going to be harder to achieve and this can be demoralising and soul destroying, all that hard work and now you feel as though you are stuck in mud. How do I get faster? Better? Run for longer? and all without getting injured?

 Sticking with a plan

Sticking with a plan and staying on track can be hard when you have seen so much progress going from 0 to 5km in a relatively short period of time as you may just want to run and run and run. And who can blame you, you’ve found a legal high! But it takes a lot of discipline to hold back rather than just pushing forward and you risk injury if you try to go further than your body is ready for. If you have just started running your training age may still be fairly young, and I mean weeks rather than years.

Stay alert and listen to your body, do you have any aches or pains that weren't there a couple of weeks ago. Do these aches and pains get worse when you run, have you done anything differently, did you go dancing at the weekend? When was the last time you bought trainers, have you got new trainers that have affected your gait? Just by asking some simple questions you can usually establish the cause of any aches and pains, there is a fine line between just normal muscle ache as your muscles adapt to a new regime and actual weakness that can lead to long term damage.

 Is there such a thing as injury free running?

Running and how to stay injury free is one of the most pressing questions on every runner's mind and as you start to increase your distance from 5k you need to be mindful of how to stay as injury free as possible.

  • Avoid the terrible too's, don't do too much, too soon, too quickly

  • Increase your weekly mileage by 10% only and listen to your body, this may even be too much after a few weeks so cut back if you are feeling tired. You need to rest, this is part of the process

  • Let your body be the boss, injuries don't tend to happen overnight, so if you have a niggle, have a couple of days off and rest. If a couple of days’ rest doesn't help, then seek advice from a sports specialist.

  • Get good shoes and if they don't feel right, take them back and keep exchanging them until they do!

  • Keep a diary of your runs, just make notes on the time of day, the weather, how you were feeling and the miles and pace. Try not to be too obsessive about it, just make a record of your runs. It's good to see your progress and you will be able to see patterns emerging, maybe stress at work, your diet, sleep patterns, these can all have an effect on how you feel when running.

  • Cross train, I know we are all really busy but a bit of cross training will really help your running, Pilates or Yoga, a Spin class or lifting weights will all help your overall fitness

  • Respect the miles, a mile is a mile, it’s a long way and most people don’t run it!