With longer races come more training miles and a higher rate of injury in a fair few cases. But does the extra mileage cause the problem? Let’s find out.
Causation and correlation
I have no doubt that for a lot of us as runners there’s a link between running more and getting injured more. The problem is the way we think of it. The two factors may increase together, but that’s only correlation. It doesn’t mean that running more CAUSES more injuries.
What causes running injuries?
Most commonly, injuries arise from biomechanical issues such as inefficient running technique, poor or imbalanced muscle strength and/or flexibility. A diet and recovery strategy that doesn’t give you what you need will also be contributing factors.
Running more with these issues will mean an increased risk of injury, but it doesn’t mean running is the issue. The way that you’re running is the problem.
What can you do to avoid injuries?
Firstly, you’ll potentially need to reduce your mileage whilst you fix things. An injury can’t get better without rest or at least under the threshold at which it occurs.
It might also be a good idea to split up your training into more regular sessions for a time. As much as longer runs are helpful for endurance and for marathons are almost essential, you might not reach the start line at all if you don’t do this. Splitting up training means you’re less tired during the latter stages of each run, technique will be better, and muscles will work more effectively to move your body, meaning less chance of injury or exacerbating a current niggle.
Secondly you need to address the real cause. See a physiotherapist, running coach or other knowledgeable health and fitness professional to work out what the issue is. From there you can work on technique, strength and flexibility to help prevent future injuries.
If you want to stave off injuries and reduce their frequency, address technique, strength and flexibility before blaming more miles for your aches and pains.
Written by Kyle Brooks, Running Coach based in Norwich, Norfolk