By Coach Brendan Robinson
A common question that runners ask is: “How do I avoid injury while training?” Research suggests that as many as 60% of running injuries are caused by not knowing how to train properly. A common mistake runners make is to overtrain. Overtraining is a result of sustaining too much stress from running with too little time for recovery. The slogan, “No Pain, No Gain” is a thing of the past. We now know runners can train too hard and deny their bodies the rest needed to recover properly. Not only is overtraining the most common way that injuries occur, it’s counter-productive to improving fitness. Too many runners are sustaining injuries that can be avoided. Running more efficiently, training smarter, and knowing when to push a little more and when to back off is the best way to avoid injury and achieve optimal results. However, knowing how to achieve all three of these is not easy. The best way to decrease the risk of injury and achieve optimal fitness is to have an effective running coach, regardless of past running experience.
Running harder by using more energy is not always the best answer for running faster. For example, running form is often overlooked by the individual runner. The first analysis all runners should make is of their running economy, and how to improve it. Running economy is defined as the amount of energy a runner utilizes while running. Often, runners waste energy by using incorrect running form, such as swinging the arms past the midline. Using the proper form will aid in the reduction of injury and help increase performance. Having a coach oversee this process is vital because a coach can provide guidance on achieving the most efficient form. Maintaining a strong core, using the proper arm swing, and having the proper posture are the three keys to improved running economy. I call this “CAP Form.” The CAP acronym stands for Core, Arms, and Posture, which provide the foundation for good running economy. I have found that the CAP form contributes greatly towards improving the individual performance of my clients.
Another mistake many runners make is trying to replicate another runner’s training. Just because something worked for one person does not mean it will provide the same results for another. Often, the runner becomes injured trying to replicate another’s training or the runner simply does not have the fitness to sustain such training. It is important to remember that each runner is unique and should be treated as an individual when formulating the ideal training plan. Tailoring training so the athlete will have the optimal balance of running and recovery is challenging, but is just the kind of support a good coach can provide.
Another wonderful benefit of having a coach is his ability to provide motivation and encouragement, which are two important factors that runners often cannot sufficiently provide for themselves. Discouragement can come from injury or not meeting one’s goals (for a variety of reasons). An effective coach can help runners move past these difficult times and refocus on appropriate and achievable goals. A coach assesses a runner’s current fitness level and develops a structured plan for advancing that level by setting logical, step-wise goals, developing appropriate works outs, and helping with the practice of time management. The result is confident runners who perform their best and see results while avoiding many of the pitfalls that interfere with personal success.
1.Jacobs, Stephen J., and Burton L. Berson. “Injuries to runners: a study of entrants to a 10,000 meter race.” The American Journal of Sports Medicine14.2 (1986): 151-155.
- Lehmann, M., Foster, C., Gastmann, U., Keizer, H., & Steinacker, J. M. (1999). Definition, types, symptoms, findings, underlying mechanisms, and frequency of overtraining and overtraining syndrome. InOverload, performance incompetence, and regeneration in sport(pp. 1-6). Springer US.
- Saunders, P. U., Pyne, D. B., Telford, R. D., & Hawley, J. A. (2004). Factors affecting running economy in trained distance runners.Sports Medicine,34(7), 465-485.
 Jacobs, Stephen J., and Burton L. Berson. “Injuries to runners: a study of entrants to a 10,000 meter race.” The American Journal of Sports Medicine 14.2 (1986): 151-155.
 Lehmann, M., Foster, C., Gastmann, U., Keizer, H., & Steinacker, J. M. (1999). Definition, types, symptoms, findings, underlying mechanisms, and frequency of overtraining and overtraining syndrome. In Overload, performance incompetence, and regeneration in sport (pp. 1-6). Springer US.
 Saunders, P. U., Pyne, D. B., Telford, R. D., & Hawley, J. A. (2004). Factors affecting running economy in trained distance runners. Sports Medicine, 34(7), 465-485.