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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!