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Saturday, January 28, 2017

How to Run Safely: Dan Chabert

How to Run Safely
by Dan Chabert (Guest Author and Runner)

As a sport, running is incredibly accessible and accommodating. You can do it basically anywhere, in any weather, indoors or out, provided you have the enthusiasm to do it and the right amount of (minimal) equipment.

Running isn’t without its risks, however. Ask any runner, and chances are high that he/she has personally been injured from running before or knows plenty of other runners who have. Some running-related injuries are overuse related, such as iliotibial band syndrome, whereas others are much more nefarious and have longer recovery periods, such as stress fractures or stress reactions.

Below, I’ll list some things to keep in mind to help you get and stay running safely. I’ve been running for nearly all of my adult life, in every distance from 5k neighborhood races all the way up to 50 kilometer ultra-marathons through the mountains, and many of my tips below originate in my own personal experiences.

Whether you’re a new runner or one more seasoned, here are some strategies to help you run safely for years to come:

Secure medical clearance from your doc. Before you begin any physical activity, particularly if you haven’t been exercising for a long time, do yourself a favor and first go talk to your doctor. Get a yearly physical, tell him or her your exercise goals, and get your doc’s go-ahead before you jump headfirst into your new plan. You’ll probably be fine, and you may be tempted to skip this step, but do it for your own peace of mind, if for no other reason.

Get fitted for a good pair of shoes. It can be tempting to buy the cheapest pair of shoes off the shelf, but if you’re going to be doing a high-impact sport like running, invest in a good pair of shoes. Go to a running store -- where runners actually work -- and ask lots of questions, try on many different pairs of shoes, and see which shoes fit your feet best. Runners love to talk about running, so indulge them. Often, an ill-fitting pair of shoes is the source of many a runner’s ailments, so don’t skimp on this step!

Go slowly. It can be really tempting to run as fast as you possibly can for every run you post -- or in broader terms, to go at 100% of your maximum effort every time you exercise -- but this is a recipe for disaster. It’s really critical that you take things slowly and ease into your running routine. Listen to your body, and take things slowly. Your runs should be pretty conversational and relaxed, particularly if you’re training for an endurance event like a half marathon or marathon. Oftentimes runners get injured because they begin running and do too much, too soon, too fast -- running too much distance before their bodies are conditioned to handle the distance, running distances way before they’re ready, and running at speeds that are too advanced for their current state of fitness. Don’t be that runner. When in doubt, err on the side of safety, and take things slowly.

Take lots of safety precautions when you run outdoors, particularly in the dark. If you run outdoors, it’s imperative that you do everything that you can to ensure your own personal safety. Make yourself visible to other pedestrians and motorists by wearing clothing that is reflective (and technological accessories that light you up even more, like headlamps, knuckle lights, and safety vests), and always carry some sort of ID with you, if not also your cell phone. Avoid listening to music if you’ll be running by yourself in the dark, and exercise sound judgement when you decide where to run, particularly if it’s dark or in the early morning, sparsely-populated hours. Let your loved ones track your run in real time through certain apps like Garmin Connect, Glympse, or Strava Beacon, and tell your loved ones your likely route and when they should expect you home; it may be a tedious step for you to take, but it’ll give them peace of mind while you’re out. Finally, depending on where you run, mind the wildlife that you may encounter, particularly the nocturnal buddies.    

Don’t compare your efforts to others’, even when you really want to. It can be really tempting to compare your training and racing with your friends, but realistically, it probably won’t do you much good. Particularly if you are new to running, comparing yourself against people who have been doing it for a very long time and thus, have a competitive advantage over you, can only be a disservice to you. It’s completely understandable to feel a little competitive with other runners, but try to abstain. Comparison is the thief of joy, as cliche as that statement is. There’s a difference between being inspired and motivated by other runners and being jealous of, or unnecessarily competitive with, other runners. Know the difference, and act accordingly so you don’t unwillingly undermine or sabotage your hard work and efforts.

Running is an enjoyable and affordable sport that nearly everyone can do, and luckily, there is no shortage of races out there for runners to conquer: short stuff, like 1-milers or even briefer track races, all the way up to (and beyond) 100+ milers or multi-day events. It’s ultimately a matter of finding the best fit for the runner and for what he/she can adequately train toward each season. However, running isn’t without its risks, as is the case with every activity, but with some planning and a commitment to taking things slowly, it’s a sport that most people can safely do day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

Writer’s Bio:

Dan Chabert
An entrepreneur and a husband, Dan hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves to join ultra-marathon races and travel to popular running destinations together with his wife. During regular days, he manages his websites,Runnersclick, Nicershoes, Monica’s Health Magazine and GearWeAre. Dan has also been featured in several popular running blogs across the world.

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.