4 steps to becoming a more durable runner

Getty Images

I always thought I was talented. I was driven, I loved training and I was competitive. I had it all, except one crucial component: durability. I was forever getting injured. Durability is the most undervalued component of distance running. Many of us know someone who is talented but seems always to be injured. We also know runners who are not especially gifted but who never get hurt – the robust runner has a better chance of long-term success than the talented athlete who lacks resilience. You need to focus on durability and training – that way you’ll be in shape and have the body that can cope with the miles. Follow our four steps to protect yourself from injury.

1. Training the overall athlete

It’s refreshing to see so many elite athletes training to improve their durability. There are an increasing number of videos depicting the drills, exercises, plyometrics, flexibility work and balance-training routines performed by the fastest of the fast to help them tolerate the intensity of their training. Try out these strength training exercises.

2. Injury-risk evaluation

Many runners still struggle to find someone who knows about both running and the cause and effect of injuries – sometimes the cause of the injury may be far away from where you feel pain. Start asking around. Find as many professionals as you can and get evaluated. You will hear some consistent answers, and you will hear some conflicting ones. Just listen and learn.

3. Develop your own prehab programme

Take what you know from your injury history – the evaluations and treatment you’ve had, and, perhaps, your own research, then visit the health professionals in your area and create a programme that addresses your issues. Simplicity is key. Don’t develop a routine with 20 exercises you must do every day: you won’t do it. Find two to five exercises and commit to them. After you get comfortable with those, add a few more. Most runners have one or two main culprits when it comes to running ailments, so it shouldn’t be too hard to address them.

4. Smart training

There is a level of training at which you are unlikely to get injured: train at this level most of the time. It’s OK to push yourself to prepare for big events, but this should be the exception. I can run 30-40 miles a week without a problem. I can even run up to 60 miles a week on occasion, but I’m asking for trouble if I try to train at this level week after week. So I keep it at 30-40 miles for most of the year. I’m better off staying injury-free so I can enjoy running and get to races in good shape. It comes down to how much training you can do while staying healthy year after year.