Successful injury prevention includes many factors you can control: self monitoring of body parts, nutrition, hydration. It's success also depends on using common sense and taking the time to track relevant data.
- Hydrate. Dehydration is the leading cause of training injuries. Even a slight case of dehydration can derail a training run or a race. Your body is 75% water. Keeping that ratio consistent helps all parts of your body -- from your muscles to your brain to your emotional state. Here's a formula for how many ounces of water or fluids you should be ingesting on a daily basis: MEN: your body wieight x .35. WOMEN: your body weight x .31
- Cross train. If you feel you are overworking yourself with running, try some cross training. A day in the pool doing water running, aerobics, or swimming can be a relief to sore areas but still help maintain your fitness level. Biking is another great cross training sport.
- Take recovery seriously. What you do immediately after you run, be that a training run or a race, can have a lasting effect on your abilty to train well. You will find a myriad of recommendations -- from drinking chocolate milk immediately after a workout to running a warm-down after speed work to taking an ice bath after a race -- from well respected resources. Read up, experiment, and find what works for you.
- Monitor shoe mileage. Avoid overwearing your running shoes. What you "save" in money you may lose in health. The recommended mileage for a pair of running shoes is 350 to 550 miles. Where you fall in this range depends on your weight, your running style, and the surface you run on. The midsole -- not the visible outside -- will wear out first. Keep track of your mileage so you know when the time to replace your shoes arrives.
- If in doubt, check it out. It's challenging to know if the unfamiliar discomfort you are experiencing is soreness or the start of something serious. Consequently, the rule of thumb is to take precaution if you have a past injury or area of concern. Talk to your coach, physician, or physical therapist if you feel you have an injury. The American Running Association has an online voluntary Clinic Advisory Board representing 27 different specialties, who answer training, nutrition, health, and sports medicine questions. As a member (a $25 yearly fee) you can post questions to the clinic board and receive informed answers. You can also search among the many questions already asked by hundreds of other members.