Vic’s Runner Training Part 4: Endurance Without Injury

Here’s another good article from  I’m noticing a few … runners coming back from workouts looking like they were run over by a car.  Keep in mind by now your workouts should be making you stronger each week (not worn out and tired).  We all may need a good dose of cross training workouts to replace some of the ‘just more miles’ workouts.  Keep cross training articles in mind for the weeks and months after the marathon.  The idea is to continue a lifestyle of fitness (without hating life)  for many years to come.  — Vic

How Beginning Runners Can Improve Endurance Without Injury

By Jason Fitzgerald • For

After gaining confidence from crossing the finish lines of their first few 5Ks or 10Ks, many runners who are new to the sport try to improve their race times. So they run more mileage and tougher workouts, and, unfortunately, inevitably get hurt.

Overuse injuries are most common for beginners, especially during periods of increasing mileage or workout intensity. It’s therefore a necessity to prioritize safely getting in better shape by exercising a healthy amount of caution during the first few months of a new runner’s training.

But how do you improve running endurance without increasing your risk of stress fractures, tendonitis or plantar fasciitis? You simply focus on aerobic exercise that has very little risk involved.

More: 6 Common Running Injuries to Avoid

Supplemental Exercise (Not Cross-Training!)

Supplemental forms of aerobic exercise can dramatically improve fitness levels while posing virtually none of the injury risk of running. The key is to choose types of exercise that are no-impact but still specific to running.

The two best supplemental exercises are pool running and cycling (or indoor spinning). [personally, I like elliptical machines as well -vic]

But before we talk about the benefits of each type of exercise, why shouldn’t these be considered cross-training?

The term “cross-training” is frequently defined by runners as anything that’s used in place of running when you’re injured. Thus, it gets a bad reputation as being something you onlydo when you’re nursing an overuse injury.

More: Prevent Running Overuse Injuries in 6 Steps

Instead, consider these exercises supplemental—or “in addition to”—your current running. They’re not replacing any scheduled running workouts, but instead are used in addition to them.

Cycling or Pool Running: Which Should You Choose?

Both cycling and pool running are very specific to running, meaning the fitness you gain from these forms of exercise is transferable to running. They’ll directly impact your running and get you in better shape to perform on race day.

More: The Benefits of Pool Running

There’s no right answer to which one is better; they both will help you get in shape with almost no injury risk because they’re zero-impact (unlike the pounding you get from running). You should choose the exercise that’s most convenient for you and that you enjoy the most.

Start with an extra workout of 30 to 60 minutes per week. You can add increments of 10 to 15 minutes every week, or another session every two weeks. Here are a few key pointers to remember to ensure proper form and execution:

  • · When pool running, keep your back tall, ensure a high cadence of at least 90 leg rotations per minute (for each leg), and don’t overextend your legs.
  • · For better form while pool running, use a flotation belt so you don’t slouch.
  • · If you’re cycling outside or inside, keep your cadence to at least 90 per leg. This will help mimic an efficient stride.

Estimate the amount of supplemental exercise you’re doing by using this approximate conversion formula: 15 minutes on the bike or in the pool is the equivalent of running one mile. You can build your fitness by adding extra “miles” to your weekly training with none of the impact stress.

More: The Next Best Thing to Running

Of course, as you become a more experienced runner, you’ll need to run more mileage gradually and complete more difficult workouts in a progressive manner. There’s no shortcut around hard work—especially if you have an ambitious goal such as qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

But supplemental exercise can act as a “bridge” between all the running that you want to do right now and what you can reasonably expect from your body. Keep your effort level at a comfortable or moderate intensity and you’ll gain more fitness than you would with just running. And your race times will prove it!