With spring just around the corner, training for 5ks, 10ks, and marathons kicks into high gear. Whatever the event, it’s critical to prepare and remain injury free. When it comes to long-distance training, injury prevention is just as important as increasing mileage each week. Here are a few tips to prevent long-distance training injuries:

Allow ample time to train

Give your body enough adequate time to train for the distance. Running a race you’re not ready for is one of biggest reasons runners become injured. Most marathon training plans run from 3 to 6 months depending on your fitness level and goal.

Warm up and cool down

It goes without saying…a proper 5 to 10 minute warm up and cool down are the best defense against injury.

Gradually increase mileage

The general rule is to increase mileage about 10 percent each week. Make a training plan and follow it to avoid overloading your body.

Listen to your body

Pain and excessive fatigue are warning signs of over-training. Be sure to allow for recovery time to refresh your legs and avoid overuse injuries.

Evaluate your form

Training with incorrect form is one of the easiest ways to incur an injury.  A gait analysis assesses a runner’s biomechanical movement and uncovers how efficiently you are moving, and examines where you land on your foot, your knee placement, and your posture.

Wear proper footwear

The right shoes and socks are critical to injury prevention, while the wrong fit results in blisters, muscle strains, and ankle issues. 

Cross train

Long-distance training can easily lead to overuse injuries. Cross training allows for recovery time between high-mileage runs, helps your body adapt, and strengthens muscles. Biking, swimming, elliptical training, and Pilates are great options.

So, before you kick your marathon training into high gear, carefully consider your training plan so your months of dedication and preparation aren’t derailed by injury!

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center

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