By Dr. Wes Gregg

The summer is here, and that means it is race season for many.
So how do you stay healthy throughout your training? Whether you’re training for your first race or your 50th, here are a few tips to help you through the season:
  1. Train for your sport. You cannot expect to just run for your training. You should already be active in strength training (shown to decrease the risk of injury and improve performance!) while striving for balance in your core and hips.
  2. Add diversity to your preparation. Because most running injuries are caused by overuse and repetitive strain, it’s important to introduce variation from your normal training. Try running on trails, hills, grass, or try fluctuating your pace. Even if you’re not participating in a training program that incorporates tempo runs and speedwork (Team Run Flagstaff does this for you), there should be some variety in your runs.
  3. Make sure you have good form. Running is a very symmetrical sport that requires proper posture, alignment, pelvic stability and hip strength. Your balance and strength should be equal on both sides and can be systematically evaluated through a running gait analysis.
  4. Check your cadence. Your cadence is the number of steps taken per minute, and should be more than 90 steps per minute per foot. If it’s too slow, you may be putting too much stress on your body. Increasing your cadence will help with over or under-striding. Focus on taking short quick steps and keeping your feet under your hips.
  5. Treat injuries before they start. Don’t wait until something hurts. Using ice and self-myofascial release (such as the foam roller) are good tools for when you are sore, but there are ways to be proactive as well. Listen to your body. If you need to adjust your workout or take a day off, it is OK. If you are feeling sharp or stabbing pain, you need to stop and get evaluated by a health professional. Pushing yourself too hard can compromise your ability to recover and lead to greater problems in the future.