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6 Things Smart Runners Do Consistently

As a triathlon coach for the past several years, I can honestly say that the most common injuries athletes experience are from the sport of running. Rarely do I have someone hurt themselves on the bike, and once in a while folks get shoulder (usually rotator cuff) strains or tendonitis. Running is hardest on your body and it can be the most grueling part of the iron distance race. As an athlete it's crucial to develop habits that optimize your running performance while minimizing the risk of injury. In order to run well, you must also run smart. In this blog post, we'll explore 5 key practices that smart runners do consistently to stay injury free achieve optimal performance.

1.They warm-up.

Smart runners understand the importance of a good warm-up routine before hitting the road or trail. They incorporate dynamic stretching and activation exercises to prepare their muscles and joints for the demands of running. Dynamic stretching involves controlled movements that mimic the range of motion required during running, such as leg swings, walking lunges, or high knees. This type of warm-up increases blood flow, flexibility, and muscle activation, optimizing performance and reducing the risk of injury.

2.They do rest days and self-care without feeling guilty.

Rest and recovery are vital components of your training plan. Smart triathletes know the significance of scheduling regular rest days (at least one full day off per week) and actively engaging in self-care activities. On rest days, I tell my athletes to dedicate time to activities such as chiropractic treatments, relaxing in compression boots, massages, yoga, or gentle stretching. These practices promote physical recovery, mental rejuvenation, and injury prevention. No reason to feel guilty- fitness gains happen during the recovery!

3.They vary their workouts.

Smart Iron distance athletes understand the value of diversity to develop a well-rounded running performance. This means not going out and running at the same endurance pace for every single run. They incorporate a variety of sessions into their weekly training plan including

Speed Workouts: Focused on improving speed and anaerobic capacity, these workouts include short, intense intervals with brief recovery periods.

Tempo Workouts: Tempo runs are performed at a comfortably challenging pace, just below the threshold where the body starts producing lactic acid. They enhance endurance and aerobic capacity.

Long Runs: The long run serves as the foundation of distance running in an Ironman triathlon. Smart triathletes include one long run each week to build endurance, mental toughness, and aerobic fitness.

Recovery Runs: These easy-paced runs aid active recovery, promoting overall endurance without adding excessive stress on the body. By incorporating a range of workouts, smart triathletes achieve balanced training, stimulate different energy systems, and prevent performance plateaus.

4.They work on mobility.

Maintaining optimal mobility is crucial for running efficiency and to minimize the risk of injuries. Smart runners dedicate regular time to hip, ankle, and knee mobility exercises and stretches with a variety of equipment such as bands, balls, tubing, weights, and more. These exercises improve joint range of motion, reduce muscle imbalances, and enhance running mechanics, resulting in better performance and reduced risk of overuse injuries.

Mary doing Yoga for recovery

5.They don’t overtrain.

Smart Ironman triathletes recognize the signs of overtraining and prioritize avoiding it. They pay attention to indicators such as persistent fatigue, elevated resting heart rate, longer recovery periods, and signs of mental distress. By listening to their bodies and adjusting training loads accordingly, they strike a balance between pushing their limits and allowing ample time for recovery. This approach ensures sustainable progress, reduces the risk of injuries, and optimizes race-day performance.

6.They do a run gait analysis with me.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a run gait analysis. A run gait analysis, conducted with a professional, helps identify areas where adjustments can be made to improve technique and prevent injuries. By addressing form errors, athletes can optimize running economy, reduce inefficiency, and enhance overall performance during the run leg of their triathlon. You can do this with me at the track and it only takes about 15 minutes. If you are a remote athlete, you can send me your videos. More information on this click here:

I hope you find the above helpful. Think about which ones you are doing consistently and which ones you could improve upon.

Have you thought about hiring a coach for your next endurance event? Click the purple box below and fill out the form for a FREE 15 min chat with me about your upcoming race goals.

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Cycling Coach

ACSM Trainer


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