So today was pretty significant. Why? Well, I officially hit my goal of running 1,000 miles for 2016. I’m excited. Stoked. Proud. Teary-eyed. Although something even more important to note, I am still INJURY-FREE. I didn’t start off the year too well. I fucked up my hamstring tendon in ways that will make you scream in pain even when I sat down for an extended period of time. After months of physical therapy and finally listening to my body so I could heal properly, I did. I got back on that saddle (slowly) and got back to my normal running pace. It took more patience than I thought I had in me, but I did it and I have sworn that I would never let myself be in that position again. Now I can say that I’ve hit my 2016 fitness goal.
Here are some tips that I’ve followed to help keep my body healthy and injury-free. Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor and these tips are just things that have helped me.
- Don’t run every single day. I’ve found that if I pack on the miles every single day without rest or a cross training day, that’s a fast recipe to getting fucked up (queue IT band issues, tightness in my hamstring tendon). As a fellow runner, yes I can see you rolling your eyes from here. Just promise to fit in some non-running days here and there. Your legs will thank you.
- Add strength training to your routine. Doing this will not only help prevent injuries, but it will really amp up your speed. It certainly helped me shave off minutes per mile, especially when I was recovering from my injury and was working my way up to my normal speed again. Also, workout your muscles evenly. Don’t just focus on one muscle group.
- Rest. No, I don’t mean resting bitch face like the one you’re giving right now reading this. I mean really letting yourself recover, especially if you feel like something is off. Believe it or not, rest days are just as important as the days you kick your ass at the gym.
- Stretch. I’ve known some runners to not stretch at all and they swear that they’re fine…yeah well I said the same thing until I fucked up my hamstring. Just give it some time. Now that I’m more prone to injuring that tendon again, that does require me to do more stretching than others. Slacking off in this area is absolutely nonnegotiable whether you’re still healing or fully recovered from an injury. My physical therapist gave me a set of dynamic stretches to do before I run. Check them out here.
- Listen to your body. When your stuck seeing your physical therapist for at least an hour, you tend to engage in a lot of conversation. One thing she mentioned was that if more runners just listened to their bodies more, she’d probably be out of a job. Why? Because runners tend to literally run themselves into the ground until they really injure themselves and get stuck going to PT. The key is to fix what might be wrong before a major problem occurs. Feel some tightness during a run? Stomach upset? Slow down a little! Or really, just stop running altogether. Pay attention to your form, breathing, and make sure you’re hydrated.
Sure as a runner, you just want to get up and go for a run, but if you want to stay healthy and keep up with training then you need to run smart. By learning to run smart, I was able to still log 1,000 miles for this year. Had I ignored my doctor, skipped PT sessions, and didn’t take their advice to heart, my running shoes would be collecting dust in the closet right now. Instead, I get to wake up, STRETCH, run, STRETCH AGAIN, and then enjoy taking post-run selfies. 😀
(This is my it’s really cold out, and my face is still thawing out face.)
And really these tips can benefit a runner at any age. I’m a 20-something and no, stretching doesn’t make you weak, it actually makes you stronger. Again, don’t be dumb. Listen to your body, and run happy!