The Marathon Goddess, Julie Weiss shares five tips to prevent injuries while training for the ASICS LA Marathon:
1. To prevent tightness or weakness, stretch or strength train to avoid injuries. Stretch in 5-second intervals with a second or so release. Continue interval stretches on a tight muscle for about 3-minutes. This seems to create a more permanent elongation of the muscle. This is better than 30-second static stretches. Be gentle and do not do this before running. Performing this exercise is good before going to bed on any weak muscles or muscles surrounding a joint which is prone to injury.
2. Having a correct running form can often solve an imbalance issue. When running, keep the chin down (imagine a thread on the top of your head pulling you up); relax shoulders to reduce the amount of energy used when running; hold elbows at a 90° angle and close the hands gently; shake your arms when running to reduce any tension; when landing the foot on the ground, land on the ball and mid-foot underneath the body weight; keep hips stable and swing arms forward (back and forth) not across when running.
3. Find proper running shoes and strengthen the foot. Lift the big toe up to a 30° angle. If you cannot do this, stretch it gently or repeat lifting it by itself. If you need to strengthen your feet, roll a tennis, lacrosse or golf ball under the foot, while standing on it. This will make sure there is no tightness underneath. If tightness occurs, keep rolling daily for about 30-seconds.
4. Over-training can be a good thing! Have a consistent training schedule. Without proper instruction, training can hurt you, or at least slow you down. Over-training for a few days can be a good thing, but needs to be followed by a taper. As you build greater volume, you need week-long interval tapers. There seems to be an epidemic of over-training, so be careful. If you are often fatigued, problems sleeping and irritable, you are probably over-training. Challenging/slightly pushing yourself a little more than usual is good. A little over-training followed by taper can be beneficial. Don’t forget, it is during times of recovery when you create growth: exercise + rest + recovery = greater energy and speed.
5. Start slow and have fun. Many people make the mistake of racing their training. They go out too fast their first time out, burn out and never want to run again. Start slow and create a good aerobic base. For beginners, start with 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week and gradually build. The pace should be low intensity. Do the “talk test”. If you can talk comfortably without being out-of-breath, that is the right pace. If you start singing, the pace may be too slow. Breathing heavy is a sign to slow down and walk until the heart rate slows down. Keep it fun. Find a running group or run with your dog or a friend. Running with a partner or group can provide great motivation.