Top 3 Tips for Runners

by Coach Kristen + Dr. Nick from PinPoint Physical Therapy

With the weather starting to get nicer and nicer, you may be feeling the itch to start running. Running is a beautiful sport and something I hold near and dear to my heart. Running gives you time to learn so much about yourself, find peace in your day, and overall makes you feel like a total bad*ss! But, doing it correctly will be the key to your success.

I have been a competitive runner for 14 years. I ran my first half marathon when I was around 14 years old! Since that race, I have definitely learned a lot on what to do and what NOT to do! Understanding the ways to best take care of your body and train make a world of difference in your running abilities.

As I reflect on the last 14 years, here are 2 things I wish I knew when I first started (or took more seriously when someone told me to do it)!

Slow Down.

Scroll to the bottom for a note on figuring out recovery run pace.

Every run does NOT need to be a “fast” pace. If anything, majority of your runs should be at a comfortable, slower pace. Constantly pushing yourself to the limit during every run can lead to mental fatigue and burnout. Running should be enjoyable and sustainable over the long term. Incorporating easier runs allows you to relax, enjoy the experience, and maintain a positive mindset toward training. It also helps prevent mental burnout by providing a break from the pressure of always performing at maximum effort.

Running at a moderate pace or slower stimulates the development of your aerobic energy system, which plays a critical role in endurance performance. Easy runs enhance your cardiovascular fitness by improving your heart’s efficiency in delivering oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. They also help increase capillary density, enhance mitochondrial function, and improve your body’s ability to utilize fat as a fuel source.

By prioritizing aerobic development through slower, easy runs, you lay a solid foundation for future improvements in speed and endurance. These foundational miles not only enhance your overall fitness but also enable you to handle higher training volumes and intensities down the road. Think of easy runs as an investment in your long-term running success, allowing you to gradually build resilience and performance capabilities over time.

Gradually Increase Mileage and Intensity

More does not always equal better! It’s tempting to lace up your shoes and go all out, especially if you’re feeling motivated. However, increasing mileage or intensity too quickly is a recipe for injury. Instead, follow the 10% rule: increase your weekly mileage or intensity by no more than 10% each week. This gradual progression allows your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to adapt to the demands of running, reducing the risk of overuse injuries such as shin splints or stress fractures.

Your long run should typically be 20-30% of your weekly mileage, but should definitely not exceed 50% of your mileage! If you add up your runs for the week, your long run should not be longer than that total. For example, if all of your runs (not including your long run) add up to 12 miles, your long run should not exceed 12 miles.

Listen to your body and pay attention to warning signs such as persistent pain, fatigue, or decreased performance. If you experience any of these symptoms, dial back your mileage or intensity and give your body time to recover. Remember, rest is just as important as training when it comes to preventing injuries.

Bonus tip:

Strength Train Regularly

Running is a high-impact activity that places a significant amount of stress on your muscles and joints. Incorporating strength training into your routine can help build muscular strength and endurance, improve running efficiency, and reduce the risk of injury. Focus on exercises that target the muscles used in running, such as squats, lunges, calf raises, and core exercises.

Aim to strength train 2-3 times per week, making sure to include both upper and lower body exercises. Don’t forget about your core! A strong core helps maintain proper running form and stability, reducing the risk of injuries caused by poor biomechanics.

Remember, injury prevention is key to enjoying a lifetime of running. By slowing down, gradually increasing mileage and intensity, and incorporating strength training into your routine, you’ll reduce your risk of injury and stay on track to crush your running goals. So lace up those shoes, hit the pavement, and keep running strong!” – Dr. Nick

How to find recovery run pace

Determining the appropriate pace for recovery runs can vary from person to person, but there are several methods you can use to gauge the intensity of your recovery efforts:

  1. Rate of Perceived Exertion: One of the simplest methods is to use rate of perceived exertion (RPE). During a recovery run, you should aim to run at a pace that feels comfortable and conversational. You should be able to maintain a relaxed breathing pattern and carry on a conversation without feeling overly fatigued. If you’re struggling to speak in full sentences or feeling breathless, you may be running too fast for a recovery effort. The RPE of a recovery run should not exceed a 4-5 effort.
  2. Heart Rate: Monitoring your heart rate can also be a helpful tool for determining the intensity of your recovery runs. Your heart rate during a recovery run should typically fall within 60-70% of your maximum heart rate or within your aerobic zone. This zone is often associated with lower-intensity efforts where your body primarily relies on aerobic metabolism for energy. If you use a heart rate monitor, aim to keep your heart rate within this range during your recovery runs.
  3. Percentage of Race Pace: Another approach is to run your recovery runs at a percentage of your race pace. A common guideline is to run recovery runs at around 1-2 minutes per mile slower than your easy or long run pace. For example, if your easy run pace is 9 minutes per mile, you might aim to run your recovery runs at around 10-11 minutes per mile.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Ultimately, the best gauge of your recovery run pace is to listen to your body. If you’re feeling excessively fatigued, sore, or rundown, it’s a sign that you may need to slow down your pace even further. Recovery runs should leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, not further fatigued.

It’s important to remember that recovery run pace can vary based on factors such as fitness level, fatigue, training load, and individual differences. Experiment with different approaches to find the pace that allows you to recover effectively, while still providing the benefits of an active recovery session.


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