Springing Into Spring Injury Free

They say March tends to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. But when the first two Saturdays have single digit highs with close to -20 degree wind chills and then a category 3 winter storm drops 14-20 inches of snow on you, I’d say March came in like a whole stampede of large African mammals. Thankfully, the weather seems to be mellowing out. While there is still a possibility of more winter weather through April, it is more the exception than it is the norm.

Here’s a little bit of spring motivation:

Boston Marathon: 26 days away

Race the Runways (Brunswick): 38 days away

Maine Coast Half and Full Marathon: 52/53 days away

Riverlands 100 and relay: 52 days away

Sugarloaf 15k and Marathon: 60 days away

Vermont City Marathon: 67 days away

LL Bean Trail Running Festival 25k/50k/50-miler: 67 days away

If your training has been derailed by the weather the past few weeks (or months) and you’re signed up for one of these races, or one of the many other spring races, now would be a good time to lace up your running shoes.

That being said, I want to caution everyone to be smart about their training. I don’t know any exact numbers, but if I were to take a guess, I’d say that April and May have some of the highest injury rates among runners. There are a few different factors that play into this, but what a lot of it boils down to is warmer weather.

First, over the winter many of us spend of lot more time in boots and footwear with a little bit more structure. When the weather starts to warm up, the tendency is to put away the boots and break out the sandals. The sudden transition from structure to no structure can be tough on the feet, and we see a lot more cases of injuries like plantar fasciitis. Be smart about not only what you wear to run in, but also what you wear on your feet the rest of the day.

Shin splints become more common this time of year as well. The two biggest causes of shin splints are overtraining and improper footwear. If you haven’t been running over the winter and decide to start with the warm weather, trying to do too much too soon could sideline you after only a couple of weeks. And wearing old shoes or shoes that aren’t providing the proper support for your feet.

For those of you who have trained faithfully in the cold and have races on the schedule in the next two months, be on the lookout for tightness, especially in the legs, and overuse injuries. Tight calves could lead to plantar fasciitis or achilles injuries, a tight hamstring could result in a pulled hamstring, and IT Band Syndrome could mess with the hips or knees. Using a foam roller and stretching, even if it is only a few times a week, could save you a lot of trouble.

If you’re dealing with something that appears to be more than just the basic soreness that comes with training, take three days completely off. I’ll be the first to admit it, taking three days off is the last thing I want to do, and runners are notorious for trying to push through injuries and making it worse than it would have been. But if it’s gone after those three days, it was probably just a minor thing that needed a little bit of rest. If the injury is still hanging on after those three days, have it looked at by a professional.

As we all know, a healthy runner is a happy runner. Be smart about your training. If something is nagging, give it a little rest and live to run another day.

Happy Running!

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