Running - How to run for longevity, health and avoid injury

Last year I went from never running (outside of 5 a side football once a week for a few years), to a 50km month, to a 160km month. Every run I either increased pace or distance, no focus on form, and then ran through an injury to get a 5K PB and got a bad case of ITBS.

I can run again now with no troubles. But I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Researching here and various books/podcasts/sites I’ve read a few things about how best to avoid injury running, but thought I’d see what other people’s thoughts are too. As I have seen a few people here mentioning running injuries.

  • Don’t increase distance too quickly.
  • Run slow (Zone 2?) for the majority of miles, or at least don’t make every run a workout.
  • Form: Don’t overstride is the main takeaway I see. Does cadence matter? I read 180-200spm is the most efficient and best for naturally fixing some running form issues (namely overstriding).

What’s other people’s experiences of running injuries, and how to avoid?

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I have also can’t find much to support the argument that running wrecks your knees in your later years online, despite it being fairly common for people to say/think. In fact I found more studies/sites stating the contrary?

I’m fairly sure most evidence point to running improving knee and hip function / health.
The only exception I guess would be pre existing issues or bad form.
Regarding Z2 running, yeah it should take up a majority of you miles, but with reference to cadence it’s worth trying to keep as high as is reasonably possible. Don’t fall into the trap of plodding just because your running slowly. That said, 200 might be pushing it a bit depending how slow your Z2 is. I’m usually around 170 at 5.30 / km.
For more info on Z2 running see the Aerobic 10k Challenge thread.

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It really is just not doing this

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That’s the beauty of multisport; you can keep fit doing swim and bike if it’s a specific run injury.

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Specifically about your second post, knee osteoarthritis:

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/36/5/330

Summary: “There seems to be little risk associated with recreational running. The general health benefits to be gained from exercise are very important.”

Some details:
History of knee joint injury is strongest predictor of OA.
Some sports eg football have higher risk of OA presumably because knees get injured.
Some studies show no significant difference between runners and controls, others show a small increase in risk for runners.
Overweight is a risk factor & running may reduce this.

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I think some of that strikes a chord with me… few random comments

  • Whilst I never added more than 10% onto a run… I did find, especially when first back from injuries, I’d try and increase duration of all my runs. That gave me a weekly increase on the previous week way over 10%.
  • I was always to quick to try and get my pace back. That needs building in just the same as the endurance
  • S&C should be the key session of the week
  • Offroad and hills can take away the repetitive strain of tarmac running (you cant overstride running up a muddy hill - least I cant)
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but i guess mainly without defining what that means…

it can do…

as opposed to unnatural or did you mean subconsciously?

increasing cadence may reduce stride length, but why would you want to do that?

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When does cadence matter? Would you recommend a ball park figure of cadence to be above?

I guess subconsciously also makes sense but looking up the definition of naturally I think that makes sense, no? “Without special intervention, in a natural manner”.

I don’t know, but would say, if you’re over striding you’d want to lower stride length, which from what I’ve read (anecdotally rather than studies, however) seems to be a very common beginner runner issue?

I’ve got no experience to know whether this stuff is true which is why I’ve posed here for thought/comments.

Cadence matters all the time…but it is stance time and what you do when in stance that is important…

Natural means existing in or caused by nature. If you take it to mean without intervention, why do you propose to intervene?

How would you know if you are over striding?

I would intervene to stop overstriding and cause injury, if that is something that can lead to injury (I’m not sure, again, just what I’ve read from anecdotal evidence!)

I was thinking looking at cadence could give you a general idea if you’re overstriding, and getting that to 180+ would help or completely fix that issue?

Without a definition to over striding, when would you know to intervene?

What is wrongly being described as over striding certainly can lead to injury…

why?

why? what is the issue you are trying to fix?

i appreciate your efforts on this…

I assumed the higher cadence the harder to over stride, as you’ll be making more, smaller steps.

And I wouldn’t know when to intervene as I can’t video my form to look at from a side on view, so more looking for general tips that will help get to at least decent form (where I’m not doing anything that will obviously lead to injury).

I don’t know enough about running form to know that what I have said is correct I’m afraid re: “overstriding causes injury”. I would assume it’s something to do with landing heel first on a straightened leg but that’s a very inexperienced guess at the issue.

yes, but you haven’t defined over striding yet…

i meant theoretically…if you don’t know what you are looking or feeling for, how would you know when and what to change?

You have now understood more about running than many (most?) coaches…and begun to answer some of questions posed above…

Whenever I picture higher cadence, I always think of Roadrunner. High turnover but leaning forward and not throwing your leg in front of you. (easier said than done).

I always think of legs running like I’m cycling, the fulcrum stays they same but the turnover increases. I’m sure that’s 10 to the power 1 magnitudes of wrong though. :grin:

I don’t want to tempt fate here, but I’ve been without any major running injury for 2 years. I do get the odd niggle and need to take a week or 2 off running, but nothing more. I am now running regularly over 70kms, and am just getting up to some 100km+ weeks. Its taken me 4 years to build up to this

@explorerJC was a pretty hard critic when I started out, he may have written me off as a hopeless case, as he hasn’t offered his advice for a while.

With running especially, there are so many pre-packaged training plans. I find the risk with these plans is that you feel you have to follow it, even when your body tells you not to. Run too hard or too far or when carrying a niggle, will only result in injury. The beauty of triathlon is that you can always swim or cycle instead.

In terms of long term risk of injury, I have 2 observations. Firstly people who do not run, then start running, and don’t buid up the strength to support their joints properly are ultimately at high risk of injury. Long term runners, who have great muscle strength and core strength are at no higher risk of joint injury, and may even be less prone to joint issues.

Second observation is that triathletes are normally pretty fit, and have the base fitness to push hard on the run, without the appropriate level of conditionning. It’s therefore important not to run because you can, its important to run an appropriate amount… and no I cannot define appropriate

Be aware of running gate analysis in specialist shoe shops. 3 years ago I was advised to get a structured shoe with lots of support to correct over pronation. I promptly got a stress fracture on my shin. I was visited a proper sports clinic, and the analysis showed that even though I over pronate, I also have slightly bow shaped legs, correcting the over pronation put extre torque on the top of my shin bone, and probably contributed to stress fracture. Since then I have been using neutral running shoes.

Another thing I found was my legs feel much better after running in Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes, they are expensive, but I have run over 1500km in mine, they are falling appart, but still run beautifully, Now that it is snowy and icy, I run with other shoes with more grip, and really notice the difference in how my legs feel after. But shoes are so personal, that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another

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Pretty much impossible to identify anything but Survivor Bias from such a claim.

always happy to criticise you :slight_smile:

I certainly didn’t write you off, or overlook you knowingly…

4 years to 100k weeks is about right, so good progress made, well done…

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I need to look up the research, but I remember reading a research paper that followed a group of runners over several years. Ultimately some stopped running due to joint issues, however, no more than would be expected in a similar size group in the general population of non runners