Running injuries arise for a variety of reasons and we can’t always prevent them. Certain injuries, however, can be avoided, particularly those that arise from the mismanagement of our training schedules.
In so far as possible, we should deflect sudden changes to our training programmes such as skipping runs when we are forced to stay late at work or cramming in extra runs to compensate for the previous week’s laxity.
There has been some great research into how much training a person should do to retain an optimum level of fitness and remain injury-free. The Runners’ World website features a useful Calculator that allows you to enter your mileage over the past 4 weeks and calculate whether you are doing too much (or even too little!).
In general, you should aim for a result whereby:
This week’s mileage ÷ the average weekly mileage of your past four weeks
= a ratio of less than 1.2
(and definitely less than 1.5, otherwise you significantly increase your risk of injury!).
If you can keep the weekly mileage in this ratio, you will drastically reduce your injury-risk, and if you can stay above 1.0 you stand to increase your training capacity.
Well, the truth is that the science behind this calculation is slightly more complex. There are more factors than just distance; running while sick, tired, or hungry are all factors that affect our training just as much as our weekly mileage. So, if you want to be as accurate as the sports scientists, your ‘general health and wellness’ needs to be taken into account.
Rate your workout on a scale of 1-10 (1 = a really easy run with little effort required, and 10 = the hardest run you could do). Multiply this by how many minutes you ran.
This week you ran three times.
Run No. 1 came to 26 minutes at an effort level of 8/10.
Run No. 2 came to 35 minutes at an effort level of 3/10
Run No. 3 came to 91 minutes at an effort level of 5/10
This week’s effort:
(26mins x 8) + (35mins x 3) + (91mins x 5)
208 + 105 + 455
= a total of 768, your training load for the week
Keep track of these training load numbers and enter them into the calculator, always aiming for a ratio of under 1.2 (and definitely under 1.5).
Nothing makes us 100% bulletproof against injury but the risk of hurting oneself can be reduced considerably by keeping track of the mileage ratios and effort numbers discussed above.