How do you prevent injury?

Yesterday I mentioned that my training last week did not go as planned.  I took the second half of the week off to listen to my body.

What put me over the top:

  • Saturday 20 mile hilly run with a fast finish
  • Sunday 8 “recovery” run – but the group had a new route to get to the top of the 9/11 Memorial, lots of hills and not exactly recovery
  • Tuesdays 9 miles with Yassos at the track



After Wednesday’s easy run, my knees felt a little achy.  I skipped Thursday’s run to spin instead, and rested on Friday but they still felt off.

I’ve run through aches and pains before and learned the hard way that they don’t go away… they just get worse and eventually lead to injury.

So I tried to decide what the smart thing was to do about Saturday’s long run. (This is where it would be so helpful to have a coach!)

I really wanted to run at least 15, but I also reasoned that if it were one of the athletes I coach describing these symptoms, I would advise them to skip the long run and cross train for a few more days.

So as much as I didn’t want to, I headed to the gym on Saturday and did a mock 2 1/2 hour run using the elliptical, one spin class, 3 miles on the treadmill and more elliptical.

I feel great today and am crossing my fingers that backing off for a few days was what my body needed.

Some of the typical “rules” to avoid injury, (several of which I broke):

* Don’t increase your overall mileage or long run by more than 10% a week

* Avoid back to back hard days (hill runs count as hard! as do long runs, speed and tempo workouts)

* Stretch and use the foam roller on a regular basis

* Take a cut back week every 4 weeks in mileage and intensity to allow the body to adapt to the demands placed on it

Sunday I headed out for 8 and felt great, so I finished with 13.5.  I think I’m back on track now!

What do you do to avoid injury? Do you listen to your body at the first signs of discomfort? Or do you have to learn the hard way?

49 thoughts on “How do you prevent injury?

  1. I really needed this post today! I had a rough long run yesterday with a very painful stitch in my left side… and I am seriously not one to complain! I was supposed to go for a 3 mile ish recovery run this morning but I still feel the stitch which I think is weird. I didn’t want to take the morning off so I did some cross training in my basement. Frustrating but I hope it goes away.
    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee recently posted..Labels Are For Soup CansMy Profile

  2. I havent been able to WHOLLY PREVENT but Im super careful with my bod as I age.
    Im an intuitive exerciser and STOP STOP and regroup at the first sign of “hmmm this dosnt feel right…”
    Miz recently posted..Breakfast brain-food.My Profile

  3. I do lots of cross training and usually run 3-4 days per week. As an older runner, I am really careful to back off when things don’t feel right. It is hard to miss out on runs, but injury is way worse!
    Pam recently posted..Disneyland/DCA Park FunMy Profile

  4. I am trying to get better about this but it is so hard! I had to give up training plans (and big race goals) because I am not good at listening to my body instead of following the plan.

  5. I know this sounds silly, but I’m so proud of you for listening to your body and backing off when you needed it! There are many times I should have done that! I’m definitely getting better about giving myself permission to take it easy, switch a run for cross-training, or, gasp, take an unplanned rest day than I used to be. These tips are awesome and a good reminder for all!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Kavu Sydney Satchel Review & GiveawayMy Profile

  6. In the past I have ignored my body and pushed through. I often have trouble distinguishing soreness vs injury. Cross training and lifting have helped a lot. and Having a coach now has helped me SO much. Takes all the guess work out of what I should do and when I’ve had to adapt (for example week 12 of training = flu) she has done it all for me so I can stay sane!
    Gianna recently posted..NYRR New York City Marathon Tune-Up: 18 MilesMy Profile

  7. I get so caught up in a training plan that sometimes I feel deviant for taking an unplanned rest day or switching the schedule. What can I say, I like a plan! I’m glad you are listening to your body and breaking the rules! I’m sure it will pay off come race day.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..The Most Meaningful MilesMy Profile

  8. So glad you listened and did what was right for your body. I’m a hybrid: I feel like I listen, but sometimes I’m injured too. The marathon plan I use puts a 20 miler way too early in the cycle for me so I’ve always skipped it. I also skip speedwork the week following a race.
    Marcia recently posted..Carrot Spice BreadMy Profile

  9. I did the same thing last week…I could feel some soreness in my quad so I skipped one of my runs last week. It was the best decision because the quad feels great now! I know that if I’d pushed it and went ahead and ran that run that I would probably be regretting it now. It’s hard but a must to listen to your body. Hope your rest helped you too!
    Mindy @ Road Runner Girl recently posted..The Weekly Chase #38!My Profile

  10. These are great tips and good for you for tuning in to avoid something possibly bad!!! I’m not always good at avoiding injury…I think I’m just lucky a lot because I do do things I shouldn’t! I would say the biggest would be listen to your body!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  11. I think there are certain things I will push through (whether its smart or not) but there are others I will stop and take the time to figure out if I need to back off. I have had my fair share of lessons learned the hard way but I’d like to think I am getting smarted about other things.
    Laura @losingrace recently posted..Teacup Training:My Profile

  12. I’m giving you the gold star for mental toughness–two and a half hours in the gym is tough on the mind! And I think it was the right thing. For me, it’s doing just that–taking a few days off at the first sign of a niggle, that keeps me moving forward.
    misszippy recently posted..Don’t be afraid of a little dirtMy Profile

  13. I really do think we have to listen to the aches and pains and back off sometimes, even though our schedules don’t allow for it. And more to that, I think we need to build these ‘back off’ times INTO our schedules.

    It took me 18 weeks to train for my first half marathon, cause I built the mileage slowly and only ran 3 times a week, but I think it paid off in the long run cause I had no injuries. I know that was a long training season and next time I could shorten it somewhat but for a first timer, it was good.

    I hope things turn around for you soon… sounds like the elliptical is a good alternative.
    Elle recently posted..You Are My Sunshine, TooMy Profile

  14. Um, so, where was this post about a month ago?? Such a great reminder. I’ve become more attuned to the aches and pains and when my body starts to talk back to me. I’ve come to realize that my body need a bit more care than I think it does. I’m glad that you are feeling better and that you did take the time off.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Life Jacket RequiredMy Profile

  15. I’ve learned the injury lesson the hard way many times. I’m getting a little better at listening and being smart! Hope you stay injury free!
    Kim recently posted..44…..My Profile

  16. Great post! I have certainly learned the hard way over the years. I used to just “push through” and deal with it, only injuring myself more. Now, I listen to my body and at the slightest bit of pain or discomfort, I stop. Even though it is still hard, I try to listen to my body and take rest days when I need them, instead of pushing my body when it truly needs a break.
    Melissa @ Fit ‘n’ Well Mommy recently posted..MIMM – Another Marvelous Weekend!My Profile

  17. That’s interesting that you stood back and adopted the mindset of coaching another runner to come to your conclusion. It shows how much we block out what we don’t want to hear!
    I hope the rest days do their job and you’re back to speedy Laura asap!
    Sherry recently posted..Getting FasterMy Profile

  18. Sounds like you made the right call to me! I tend to follow similar ground rules. I’m also a big proponent of listening to my body. Last week, I wound up taking 3 full days in a row off of running. Sometimes, your body needs it!
    Mandy recently posted..Rainier RecapMy Profile

  19. Good for you!! It’s often so hard to take your own advice. I learned injury prevention lessons the hard way but now I absolutely listen to my body and I remember what a really good running friend once said “Do you want to run tomorrow or for the rest of your life?” Um, the second one please! Glad you’re feeling good and back at it!!
    Allie Burdick recently posted..VITA-MERICAL or My Blog CommercialMy Profile

  20. This post came at just the right time – I have been slacking on the stretching/foam rolling lately. It’s starting to catch up with me, and my hips have been bothering me a bit on runs recently. So I am using this as a reminder to get back into my routine of stretching, since it really does help!
    Noelle @ NoelleRuns recently posted..Things I Love: Socks!My Profile

  21. I think you nailed the most important ones. I think I have under-used x-training in the past. Such a great idea how you simulated such a long effort with minimal running/impact. 🙂
    Jenelle recently posted..Tuesday tid bits;My Profile

  22. I do try and listen to my body. I go for regular appointments with my chiropractor (who does everything), and especially if I start to feel any kind of twinge. Thankfully I’ve been lucky and haven’t had any major setbacks (touch wood) that are running related anyway!
    Robin recently posted..Milton Half MarathonMy Profile

  23. Oh boy!!! I actually just had something happen today that has me nervous!!! I am not sure what it is but the back of me knee to like the top of my calf hurts…it is weird. To the touch it is the top of my calf, but when I run it is the back of my knee. It started hurting on the last mile of my speed today. I walked over 1/2 of my cool down. If I would have had my phone, I would have called my husband to come get me :)!
    I have only had one other injury a few years ago…runners knee. I totally did the wrong thing and tried to push through it till I could no longer hardly even walk. It was at a critical point of my 1st marathon training and is the reason I only got up to 15 miles in that training…I should have listened better :)!
    I am so glad you are feeling better!!!!!
    I am also catching up on my blog reading and so sorry about your miscarriage. You are such a strong women and a great mother. You are handling the situation with such grace! I am praying for you!
    Jen @ milesandblessings recently posted..The mental roadblocks & I am kind of boring….My Profile

  24. Very, very smart choice! A few days off as soon as you feel those aches creeping in usually saves you from having to take weeks and/or months off later on.
    Michelle recently posted..All InMy Profile

  25. Ah. You were definitely smart in listening to your body. I actually did about the same thing last week…fast finish hilly 18-miler, tough hill workout and tough tempo…all within 5 days and I am paying for it and having to take some time off too. I am crossing my fingers for you that doing it proactively vs. waiting until the injury already settled in leaves you in a better position than I (might) be in right now!
    Corey recently posted..NYC Marathon Week 9: All the HillzMy Profile

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