Running is a high impact exercise and can result in many injuries if you are not smart with your training and recovery. Whether you are a beginner, and your joints aren't used to the impact of running, or a seasoned runner who needs to rest more, it is always important to train smart in order to reduce the chance of injury.
Your shoes will cushion your foot from heavy impact landings. Make sure to buy your running shoes from a specialised store to learn what type of pronation* you have when your foot lands. Buying shoes for your pronation type is pivotal for shock absorption and thus injury prevention. Remember to replace your shoes regularly as they lose up to half their cushioning after 500 miles.
*Pronation is the natural movement of your foot as it rolls inwards upon landing. It determines how the impact of the ground is distributed and it differs across people. There are three main types: Overpronation (foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inwards transferring weight to the inner edge of the foot), neutral (foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inwards to absorb shock) and supination (the outside of the heel hits the ground at an angle with little or no inward rolling).
Building up strength in your muscles and connective tissues will improve coordiantion and help to control your movement, allowing you to maintain your posture whilst running. Improving muscle strength will also help you run faster as your muscles don't need to expend as much energy to reach a faster pace. Make sure to build muscle across your entire body, not just your legs, as running requires power from your entire body. Some good strength training exercises to incorporate into your routine include: squats, lunges, shoulder press and leg raises.
As well as preventing burnout, recovery days will allow your muscles to heal and rebuild, reducing your risk of injury. This is because when you exercise, microscopic tears are formed in your muscle fibres, which turn into strong muscle at rest. In the absence of rest, your muscle fibres will continue to break down, preventing the strengthening and rebuilding of your muscles.
Run on Softer Surfaces
Grass, running tracks and treadmills are much less impactful on your body than hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt. Hard surfaces don't absorb all the shock that runs through your body when running and can cause stress fractures and shin splints. It must be noted that there are still injury risks from running on natural soft surfaces such as grass or nature trails as the ground can be uneven or slippery.
Diet can affect bone density and structure, which determines how much they can withstand the impact of running. When the body gets insufficient calories, stress fractures can develop, especially in women, which can have serious impacts on bone health. Make sure to have a diet high in calcium to maintain bone health. Try adding more calcium-rich dark leafy greens to your diet, such as kale and spinach.