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Veteran Injuries
The knack of keeping going - is it good luck, or good management?


One of the major talking points between veterans is about injuries.  All runners at one time or another have an injury - some more than others, a number have the same injury or niggles returning time and again.  How many times have you heard the expression, ďI havenít seen Bill or Ben for a while, is he injured?Ē

A few runners just accept that injuries are inevitable, but are they?

Preventative exercises including strength and flexibility routines, can go a long way in ensuring that you stay injury free, and I will be covering those topics later on, but there are other ways that can help which seem less obvious.

Shoe Wear

About once a month instead of just throwing your running shoes in the cupboard, place them on a level surface, (kitchen top) squat down to view them from behind, and see whether or not they sit square to the top, or tilt over.  If they tilt, then examine the sole more closely.  Check to see whether the wear is uneven on the heel, and to which side.  Any shoe that has a stud base can lean over very quickly if you have a pronation problem - as the tips of the studs soon wear.

Running on the moors with a worn shoe and a pronation is not helped by the uneven terrain.

Most runners are not aware that injuries to the hip or knee area can be caused by the foot plant.  Running on the road has the same problem with worn shoes, as the extra impact of the hard surface adds to the problem.  If you are fortunate enough to have several pairs of shoes to choose from, then rotating the shoes is helpful.  If you feel that your shoes do wear very quickly and unevenly then you may have to consider in the first instance some anti-pronation shoes, or possibly orthotics to passively stabilise the foot and prevent abnormal motions.  You may even supinate (wear on the outside edge of shoe) but its usually pronation, or hyper-pronation as it should be called (wear on the inside edge of sole and heel).  Either way a good fitting pair of shoes with adequate cushioning, and no uneven wear, go a long way in keeping injuries at bay.  Those runners with a bad pronation, should take the time and trouble to have the problem sorted, having orthotics fitted is not a big deal and can help to keep you going through the vet age categories.  Without them injury will surely come your way, sooner rather than later.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries are generally caused by overload or repeated microscopic injuries to the musculo-skeletal system.  Tissues can withstand great loads but there is a critical limit to this capacity, which varies from runner to runner.  Between 25-50% of all injuries arise from this source.

How can you tell when you are doing too much, I hear you say.  The following should help:

10 Golden Rules

  1. Try not to increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% from the previous week.

  2. Try to keep intensive sessions apart by at least one days running at a lower intensity.

  3. Alternate the running surface as often as possible, from road, to tracks and grass.

  4. Keep off the camber of a road when running any distance.

  5. Think seriously about the mileage you are doing, is it necessary?  Could you not reduce volume and add more quality?

  6. If you go for a long Sunday run stay within the distance that you feel comfortable with, donít come back really tired, your running style should be maintained and not deteriorate through muscle tiredness.

  7. If you have a re-occurring injury, if itís possible to support it, then do so, either with an elasticated tailor made support, or strapping - if itís around the ankle - this should only be until you feel the injury has completely cleared.

  8. Cross training is an excellent way to avoid injury, and is also an important method of rehabilitation for old injuries.  For those who use a bike to supplement their training youíll need no convincing.  If you are not happy being on the roads with traffic and all, then a mountain bike is a gem.  If you are still not committed enough to face a winter on a bike, then how about a turbo trainer in the garage?  What ever you choose, this method of training can help considerably in building good leg strength and conditioning, without the impact on the legs.

  9. Get into the habit of taking your resting pulse every morning before you are up and about.  A same time, same place, routine will give you surprising regularity of your heart rate (HR).  Forget formulas, what ever yours is, is it!  Once you are in the habit of taking the pulse correctly it varies very little, give or take a couple of beats, UNLESS you are coming down with a cold or illness, or you are pushing your body too far.  If it is elevated 5+ beats or more from normal, that signals something is just not quite right, and you have to evaluate your training at that time.
    (To take the pulse correctly hold your watch loose in your left hand, and place the first three fingers of your right hand on the radial pulse point of the left wrist.  Wait for a pulse beat to coincide with a second, then count the beats as you watch the watch for 30 seconds, then just double it.  Keeping a record can give a clear indication of your current fitness level and whether or not your training is effective.  The fitter you are, the lower the HR will be.  As a guide 40-50 is the range you should be looking for in men and 45-55 in women.  Although as I mentioned itís not critical.  If your HR is sub 40 then you are already there!)

  10. Finally with injuries in mind, always consider that a rest day is the most important training day of the week.


Norman Matthews © 2001-2004
Head Senior Coach
Horwich RMI Harriers