Ask the Readers: Injury Prevention, Beating Soreness, & Strength Exercises

by Jason Fitzgerald

I frequently get emails from readers with specific questions about problems they’re having with injuries, race strategies, or faster workouts. I don’t mind the questions – in fact, I encourage them. Email me with any of your training issues and I’ll be happy to reply.

Fatal Drop

No, Your Emails Don't Make Me Want to Jump

Many of you know that several months ago I launched a private ebook to the Strength Running Team called the Strength Running PR Guide. It was a collection of nearly 40 questions that readers submitted to me that I put together in a detailed digital guide, available only to newsletter readers.

If you’re interested, you can sign up here to get access to the PR Guide, along with other exclusive content, workouts, and ebooks.

Below are even more questions that I’ve received since it was published. I hope we can learn from other reader’s issues and all become better runners. Thanks to Jeff, Randy, and Nicole for sending these in!

Injury Prevention 101

What’s a good prehab or injury prevention regimen? My injury issues tend to be lower leg: knees and below, with my suspicion that my feet and ankles are causing occasional knee pain. - Jeff

Generally speaking, you should do a warm-up before every run and do some core/strength work after every run. Some recent research is showing that weak hips are to blame for many injuries, including lower leg and knee injuries. A good routine that can help you strengthen this problem area in runners is the ITB Rehab Routine.

Most of your running should be relatively easy, with strides, surges and hills as consistent fundamental work. Variation in your pace, along with terrain, shoes, and effort, will help you prevent overuse injuries as your body won’t get used to doing one particular type of training.

To get you started, read my (lengthy) article on Dynamic Warm-ups and Core Routines. You should also incorporate strength exercises in the gym if you can – focus on compound, multi-joint movements like lunges, dead lifts, and squats. If you don’t know where to start, the Rebel Strength Guide provides videos for each exercise and numerous training plans (I bough it and love it).

Once you’re comfortable with a flexibility warm-up, core/strength warm-down, and different types of training stresses your chance of injury is going to plummet.

How Sore is Too Sore?

Is it normal to be sore after every hard workout?  Tempo runs and intervals are especially nasty and the long runs typically leave me sore as well.  Other people I’ve talked to don’t admit to having the same issues.  I don’t seem to be injury prone because of it – although I have had a few.  Is that common? - Randy

You’ll likely always feel something after a hard workout or long run. But the level of soreness shouldn’t prevent you from doing your next workout. If it does, then you ran too hard or too long!

Here are a few articles for more reading:

It depends on what exactly is sore, but here are a few things you can do to reduce soreness after hard workouts:

  • Run barefoot strides – excellent strengthening workout for your feet and lower legs.
  • Run hill sprints 1-2 times per week – these will make you sore at first, but then will protect you from injuries and soreness once you adapt.
  • Run more volume – a higher weekly training volume hardens your legs to the effects of hard workouts.
  • Hit the gym and lift heavy – dead lifts, squats, and pistol squats are very beneficial for building the strength you need to run (and recover from) hard workouts.

Of course, don’t implement all of these changes in your training all at once! Any change should be done gradually and preferably one at a time so you don’t risk an injury.

Scheduling Strength Exercises

I have been running for 11 years, and unfortunately suffered from ITBS last summer. I did 1.5 months of PT, and many of your exercises were the same that I was doing. As I begin my training for NY, which days do you recommend that I do the strengthening exercises? I’m doing Hal Higdon’s Marathon 3 plan:

  • Monday: REST
  • Tuesday: Easy Run
  • Wednesday: Cross-Train
  • Thursday: Tempo Run
  • Friday: REST
  • Saturday: Long Run
  • Sunday: Cross-Train

Do you think twice a week is enough for these exercises?  Are they better to do on days of running, or days of strength training? - Nicole

My recommendation is to do the ITB exercises every 2-3 days for at least 2-3 times per week. Other strength work can complement it but the specific ITB exercises shouldn’t be skipped too often if you have a weakness that predisposes you to the injury (like me). Doing them on a hard, easy, or cross-train day shouldn’t matter too much as long as you get them in!

Based on the schedule you outlined, I’d also recommend running at least one other day. Attempting a marathon on only three days of running puts you at a much higher risk of injury. Your fitness just isn’t at the level it needs to be in order to run 26.2 miles all at once.

If you keep the same schedule above, I would add another easy run on Monday in place of full rest. It can be the same distance or slightly shorter than your easy run on Tuesday.

When it comes to cross-training, you should choose exercises that are specific to running like cycling or pool running. You’ll gain more fitness, which will help you prevent injuries as you attempt to cover a marathon distance.

What questions do you have? Leave them here in the comments and I’ll answer them! Don’t forget to sign up below to get access to the Runner’s Gear Bag, a collection of free guides, workouts, and extra content designed to help you become a better runner.

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{ 4 comments }

Lydia

Great post full of very useful information! Thanks Fitz!

Fitz

You’re welcome :)

Rob

Just found your site a few weeks ago thru Marathon Nation. Love the site and the ITB rehab routine. Have had hip issues for awhile and having been doing some of the exercises in your workout but learned some new ones. I’m a 46 y.o. marathon/ultra/triathlete. Been running since i was 13. Currently putting 60-80 mpw. Getting ready for a marathon in September in Allentwon PA and then a 50 miler in November out your way (Stone Mill 50 in Montgomery county). I live in PG county not to far from Silver Spring.
Run Strong!

Fitz

Hey Rob, thanks for your comments! I have a friend running the Allentown marathon this September – good luck. Always fun to have local readers :)

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