The Most Popular Question

I try to answer questions I get from readers as they come in, but I have noticed that throughout this ultra-training cycle I have received one question more than any other question.  I have tried to sit down and write a post on it, but I have kind of have a tough time figuring out what to say and how to say it since I don’t have a great answer, so I am just going to address it the best I can.

The question: How do I not get injured with all the miles I run? 

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I honestly wish I had a magic answer to this question.  Chris always answers that he takes all the injuries for the family and that’s why I (knock on wood) stay relatively injury free.  While that is not necessarily true, his statement does address one very important thing: every runner is different

What I can do is not the same as what Chris can do, which is not the same as anyone else can do.  Our bodies are different and handle running very differently.  I seem to be a lucky one that can handle more miles, but this didn’t happen overnight.  I do take a lot precautions to help keep my legs and body happy.

January 22, 2012 598

Run Slow

As I have significantly built up my mileage the last couple months, I have also slowed wayyy down (which is also part of the nature of this ultra-training). 

I don’t run any of my runs “all out” and haven’t done any speed work this training cycle.  I am focusing on endurance and I didn’t want to risk injury with adding in speed work at the same time as I was significantly building miles. 

For example, last February while marathon training, I ran 197.8 miles at 8:59 average pace.  This February, I ran 315.8 miles at 10:32 average pace.  Some of this slow down is naturally from running trails, but a lot of it is just me generally slowing down on purpose. 

Some people can handle both increasing mileage while increasing speed, but for me, I wanted to make sure that I went into this training cycle safely and get to the start line healthy.  I am kind of approaching my first ultra-training cycle how I approached marathon training for the past 4 years as you can see from the progression below.

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Progression

I started running 4 years ago training for my first marathon, and trained for 10 more after that.  Each marathon training cycle a lot of progression in them as my body got more used to running:

My progression went something like this…

  • 4 days of running, no speed work, peaking at 40 miles per week
  • 5 days of running, 1 day of speed work, peaking at 50 miles per week
  • 6 days of running, 1 day of speed work, peaking at 60 miles per week
  • 6 days of running, 2 days of speed work, peaking at 65 miles per week
  • 6 days of running, 2 days of speed work, peaking at 70 miles per week

As you can see, it’s been gradual and did not happen overnight.  I took this same philosophy into account when I set out to make my training plan for AR50.  The last 3 years I have consistently hit 2,000+ miles per year, so my body is used to running.  I knew my body could handle 70 miles per week while training for a marathon, including speedwork and all pavement running, so naturally I wanted to bump that up when training for a race twice as long.  I decided to start with what I had as a base, 6 days of running, no speed work, with a higher peak mileage that we will soon find out!

Other Preventatives

icebath

I used to be a really good at icing after every single run, but I haven’t been so much lately.  But when I do feel something that feels weird or off, I ice it immediately. 

May 752a

I try to stick and roll whenever I feel a twinge.  I should be better at this and have been trying to more lately, but it’s one of those things that gets pushed off too often.

I used to spend a lot of time at the chiropractor getting ART and sports massages.  I typically did this when I had problems areas, which I haven’t had as much of lately, but they did help me a lot. 

Feb 003

I live in compression socks.  Before runs, after runs, sometimes during runs.  I don’t know how much they really do help, but they seem to do something!  I have noticed my calves aren’t as tight and my feet and ankles are generally happier.  My favorite socks are my CEP running progressive socks.

Nov

I am crazy about my shoes.  I keep track of every single mile I run on every single pair of my shoes and as soon as they start getting close to 250/300 miles I start rotating in a new pair.  I don’t like to do long runs on shoes with more than 250 miles because I can just tell and notice afterwards.  I save my older shoes for shorter runs and leave the fresh pairs for the long runs.

B06

I rest!  I am not kidding when I say I go to sleep at 7:30 on a lot of nights.  Even if I am not asleep, I am in bed resting.  I always schedule rest and recovery time into my days, making sure that (especially this training cycle), I have time to recover.  I believe this has been crucial in my recovery and injury prevention. 

So while I definitely don’t have a magic answer, it’s also not magic.  I take precautions, I have built up over time and I listen to my body’s cues. 

Do you battle injuries when running?  Are you a high mileage runner?  What are some of your injury prevention tips?  Spread the knowledge!

Other popular questions that I will be addressing soon are regarding eating, fueling and hunger, time management and scheduling, and my mentality around slowing down a lot.  Anything else you have been dying to know?

I also have a bunch of past posts in the injury prevention/recovery category, so check them out too!

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25 Responses to The Most Popular Question

  1. JoLynn March 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    10:32? Woohoooo. We can run together again.
    That picture of Emma is so cute. I want to sneak up on her and kiss her nose.

  2. Lazy chick March 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    I’m one of those lucky ones that don’t get injuries….. Knock on wood….I do however have been maintaining very low mileage training for all my half marathons except the last one where I peaked at 30 miles. I’m training for my first full and I’m planning on taking your approach and not adding too much speed work. I’ll save it for my half marathon later this fall.
    I’m lucky in a way that I can run 12 miles with absolutely no running 3-4 months and my body can handle it. Sore? Absolutely, but no injuries. But I don’t do this crap anymore!!

  3. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy March 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Very interesting and impressive how much you’ve worked up to get to the mileage you’re at. IT’s so true that we have to keep in in perspective. We can’t compare ourselves to each other. We are all unique individuals with different abilities and thresholds.

  4. Rena @ milehogger.blogspot.com March 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    Thanks so much for this post. I actually am pretty injury prone. I think my problem is that I try to do too much too fast. I will definitely keep this post in mind while training for my first ever marathon!

  5. Janice Cook March 7, 2012 at 4:03 am #

    I am the same way with my running shoes.

  6. Danielle @ Long May You Run March 7, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    I’m just curious- do you think running more on trails (vs roads) has anything to do with staying injury-less too? ps- Your dedication and perseverance is awesome- very inspiring!

    • Aron March 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

      I still do almost 100% of my weekday runs on pavement BUT I try to get one of my long runs on trails which could help. I do think trails and the soft surface helps… but you also have other obstacles with holes, rocks, roots, hills, etc. Who knows?!

  7. abbi March 7, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    Really enjoyed this post. I’ve been building up mileage (um…no where near yours) and have been worried about it due to a foot issue last year. So far, so good!

  8. Kristen March 7, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    I am definitely NOT a high mileage runner. My body does not respond well to it and breaks. So I have to build really slowly and just can’t do high mileage. But I am learning to run within those limits and making the best of it!

  9. Shut Up and Run March 7, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    Great insight and answers. For me, the biggest key to not getting injured is to slow down. For some reason it is tough for me to not go balls to the wall on every run. I actually enjoy running MORE when I don’t do that. I think if/when I train for an ultra I will take your advice on this one big time.

  10. Denise March 7, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    loved this post. now i just wish i could be so lucky!! but i have to say, reading this made me realize that i didn’t progress as smoothly as you. following my first marathon up w/ a 50 miler might have been a little aggressive. i’m finally admitting that. i’m great with getting sleep and ART, but i need to be better about icing and rolling. maybe i’ll bring my roller to work, i’d be more than happy to take a break from work for a little pain session.

  11. Ricole Runs March 7, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    This is interesting because I definitely am susceptible to injuries. Thank you for sharing! And that picture of your pup is soo adorable.

  12. shelly March 7, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Your experience is full of great tips for anyone thinking of going longer or building miles. I completely agree that the safest way to build miles is over time and (mostly) without speed being a big factor.

    Every runner is indeed different. You are using 70+ mile weeks to prepare for a 50 and I am going to peark around 85+ and I am training for a 100. There are some who would say we are doing too much and others who would think we should do more. The best beat is the safest one. Write the plan in pencil and then LISTEN to your body as you progress slowly into new mileage territory.

  13. Kate March 7, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    This post is great! I just signed up for my first ultra (Tamalpa Headlands 50K) and I’m very inspired by your training.

  14. LeeAnn March 7, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Love my CEP socks and sleeves!

  15. Holly March 7, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    I was in the “haven’t gotten injured” category too until recently. Although my injury is not necessarily running related, it is keeping me from running. To stay healthy, I was following a plan that included lots of cross training (I’m on the dark side- triathlons) so I wasn’t running that much but my runs were more focused (tempo, speed and long). For me cross training and core work have been key to staying healthy and getting me faster.

    I’m also a HUGE fan of CEP socks and sleeves- and ice baths taken in the pool during winter months.

  16. Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen March 7, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I love this post! I have always become more injury-prone with higher mileage, but everything you outlined really made sense and, when put all together, makes it reasonable to think you aren’t limited by your past experiences. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Sima March 7, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Great blog post!

    Through osmosis (or from picking your brain nonstop!), I believe I have inheirited many of the injury preventions techniques you described – the compression socks, the “stick” and foam rolling, getting massages, and most of all, not going all out on my long runs. I totally feel a difference in how my body bounces back during this training cycle after my long runs versus my very first half marathon training program, even though the full marathon program has me running twice as many miles each week!!! I think a combination of all of these things is so important. Good Job!

  18. Audrey March 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Great post, Aron! Very helpful, from all your injury prevention advice to how you increased mileage and added speed gradually.

  19. Page March 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    It’s the socks and the sleep! Sending “no injury” vibes your way.

  20. Michel March 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    All very true and helpful tips! I have yet to venture into compression, but I’m investing in some socks soon.

    I’m just now starting to train for my first half, so I really don’t have much to add. The only aspect I monitor closely besides the ones you mention is nutrition. When I’ve eaten too many ‘heavy’ foods, I pay for it with stomach cramps. Those always change my gait, equaling injury. I look forward to hearing (and being inspired by) your continued ultra training!

  21. Amanda - RunToTheFinish March 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    seriously fantastic advice! we are all different but definitely giving our body a chance to build up is important

  22. Susan - Nurse on the Run March 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    As I’m battling injury right now, I’m wayyy jealous of anyone being injury free. That being said, I think you’re super smart about your training and take proper precautions. I can definitely tell a change in my body once I hit about 60 miles, and I know that I don’t do enough slow runs…which might be part of the problem.

    Definitely some good advice, but it’s true how different all of our bodies are.

  23. Christine March 13, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.I have a love/hate relationship with my foam roller. But it works well :)

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