Training errors and injuries

There is a school of thought in the running world that trainings errors are the primary cause of injuries. I for one don’t buy it and I will tell you why. The idea behind training errors is that you have some magical progression or volume level that if you adhere to you will never get injured. There is some truth to this. If you never run you will never get a running injury. The fact is if you are not able to increase your mileage or intensity beyond a certain level, you can not get anywhere near your potential as a runner. Improvement as a runner comes from being able to increase mileage. If you are constantly stuck at 40 miles a week you are going to have a hard time making significant gains. That somehow your body knows what volume, surfaces, intensities, and workouts that will amazingly give you an injury free running body does not pass the common sense test. As a runner who struggled with injuries for many years after college, this is complete bullshit. I remember in high school that no mater what the coach threw at me, I did not get injured. My body was resilient enough to comfortably deal wth anything. As I got older this changed. Now in my forties I take longer to recover and hardly ever take a nap after a hard workout or long run.

So why is it that so many coaches and runners think that there is a magical formula for injury free running? It is a simplistic solution to a much more complex problem. Running is an incredibly complex biomechanical activity. Simply saying that you need to reduce the amount you do it to stay injury free is a cop out. If this were true elite runners going at 100 to 120 miles per week would be injured all the time. The fact is that they aren’t. Advocates of the training error myth will say that their bodies have adapted to the load and you just aren’t there yet. So how do I get there? The answer is in running specific strength training. I am a huge fan of Jenny Simpson. Olympic medalist and certified badass. In this great video that came out before the 2015 world championships, you hear her coach talk about the aerobic metabolism. Meaning Jenny does a lot of long running. What you also see in the video is Jenny doing is a ton of running specific strength work and drills. Same thing with this video of Meb.

If your feet, ankles, and hips are not conditioned to deal with the stress of running, your body transfers that stress to other tissues, which eventually cause a breakdown and leads to injury. If we spent more time focused on the biomechanics of the stride and what the body needs to be able to do to run successfully, we’d all be much better off and injury rates would drop though the floor. This focus on slowly increasing mileage and intensities has only gotten us so far, and more importantly, has not actually reduced injury rates. What has worked for me over the past few years is running specific strength work. I have not been able to avoid all injuries, but I have vanquished many (ITBS, plantar fasciitis, posterior tibialis tendonopathy) from my recurring injury cycle. If you have struggled with injuries and have not yet given strength work a try give it a go.

If you need help coming up with a strength program or how to get started, drop me a line and I’ll help you out.

Enjoy the Run.

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