If you are a novice runner or an experienced runner preparing for an ultra-marathon, increasing your running distance, unfortunately, is often associated with injuries.
70% of all sports injuries occur in the foot and lower limbs and most of these are overuse injuries, many of which can be prevented.
Overuse injuries are sustained from repetitive strenuous actions, and the sudden increase in these actions further increases your risk of injury.
Running is a very repetitive activity, putting the same tension in the same parts of your body step after step, race after race.
Doing too much (distance), too early, is the number one cause of ordinary injuries.
If you are returning from a break or starting to run more than ever before, you are in a danger zone of potential injury.
Your body needs time to adapt and condition itself to the increased stresses you place on it with each race.
Here are 4 tips to help you increase your running distance:
1. Take it easy
The well-known “10% rule” is a simple guide to increase your distance. Build your career distance by no more than 10 percent per week.
So if you run 10km the first week, run 11km in the second week, about 12km the third week, and so on .
However, a 10 percent increase may be too much for some.
Use the 10 percent rule only as a guideline.
2. Listen to your body
Overuse injuries experienced by running do not only make surprise visits.
There are often warning signs: persistent pain, burning and pain will let you know that you need to stop and rest.
If the pain is still present when you return to run, then you need to seek professional advice.
A podiatrist and physiotherapist with good knowledge in sports medicine can give you advice on possible causal factors and how to handle them.
The “I eliminate it running” approach does not work and in most cases it will only aggravate the injury or cause additional injuries as you try to change your career technique to compensate.
3. Focus on technique
When returning to, or starting with a career you should aim to have a relaxed, pain-free technique.
It is important to achieve this before increasing your distances.
Studies have found that runners who routinely have a bump on the back of the foot have significantly higher rates of repetitive strain injury than those who mostly run down the middle of the front foot.
There is a lot of controversy about which is the best running technique. The technique of running is individualized.
The length of the legs, the position of the foot, height and weight are different from person to person, so there is no generic gold standard running technique.
The only suggestion we can make is based on what the research says: “increasing the rate can reduce the load on certain tissues”.
Maintaining a constant cadence – the speed at which your feet hit the ground measured in steps per minute – prevents your legs from spending too much time supporting your body weight with each step.
4. Buy some good running shoes
Buying the right shoe for running can be daunting.
Running shoes have changed a lot over the years, and there is a huge variety of models, brands, and types to choose from.
There are even minimalist shoes designed to mimic barefoot running (although there is no scientific evidence that wearing shoes decreases the risk of injury).
Getting good running shoes is of utmost importance and plays an important role in reducing the risk of injury.
It is imperative that the shoes are selected taking into account the terrain to be run, the distance, the weight, the posture of the foot and the race style
It greatly affects the sole of the shoe – those who run on a track or the like can benefit from a trail shoe with a running midsole, but with a stronger tread.
Long-distance runners need to look for additional features in shoes such as gel or midsole additions to help with durability.
Often overlooked in the selection of footwear, intense runners need a denser (firmer) midsole than less intense runners.
An intense runner compresses a soft midsole quickly, receiving little shock absorption from it and quickly exhausting it.
A less intense runner will have difficulty in compressing a firm midsole and will again get a minimum of cushioning benefits.
Most of the runners land on the heel and most shoes are designed to accommodate this.
Some tread with the middle of the foot or with the front of the foot however, and require various features, some brands of shoes specifically focus on these types of footprints, check with your podiatrist or fitness technician before going to buy footwear.