It’s the start of a new year and in Vancouver that means thousands of new runners will be taking the streets in preparation for running the Vancouver Sun Run in April.  Congratulations on setting this huge goal for yourself!  These tips should help you get to the finish line injury free. 

  1. Dust off your circa 1980 sneakers…and donate them to charity!  Get yourself a new pair of running shoes!  Be sure to go to a reputable running shoe store and get help buying your shoes. Don’t be sold on your favourite color or the latest trend, just make sure you run out of the store with a shoe that fits well and is comfortable on your foot.  
  2. Find a training program and a group to run with. The SportmedBC InTraining clinics are fantastic, as are the clinics from local running stores.  Having a group of other beginner runners to help keep you motivated and accountable each week will stop you from skipping workouts and falling off the training plan.  
  3. Discover your weaknesses before you run. Running injuries are very often a cause of something weak somewhere in your body. For instance, weak hips, or weak feet can both cause knee pain! You will likely need some help determining which of these is causing your knee pain though.  Have a sport physiotherapist do a head to toe assessment of your body to find out where your weaknesses are, so you can turn them into strengths, and stop injuries before they start. 
  4. If you are already injured or suffer from aches and pains somewhere in your body, get them taken care of before you start a running program.  Go see a physiotherapist who understands running to make sure that injury doesn’t impede your running or get worse. 
  5. Do a dynamic warm-up before each run.  Walking or jogging slowly isn’t enough to warm up the nervous system, the muscles, tendons and joints.  Try some leg swings, high knee marching, shuffling or skipping sideways, and some easy lunging steps as a start.  Follow this with a brisk walk or a light jog to get you going. 
  6. Run on different surfaces – don’t always run on the sidewalk. Try trails, the road, treadmills or even deep water running! Mix up the surfaces you run on and it will challenge the forces on your joints differently and help prevent repetitive strains. 
  7. Stick to the program. It is easy to get excited about running when you first start, but don’t over do it. Rest and strengthening are just as essential to becoming a better runner than just running alone. 
  8. Get into the habit of stretching your running muscles and doing self massage with things like foam rollers, massage sticks or tennis balls. Your muscles will thank you and you’ll feel more recovered and ready for your next run. 
  9. Eat well and hydrate. I’m not a nutritionist but I do know that a good balanced diet and proper hydration is essential to provide energy to your muscles for running.   
  10. Most of all – have fun!  If you hate running, you likely won’t follow these tips and will be more likely to get injured from the runs you do!  Running can be fun if you treat body well! 

Timberly George works at City Sports & Physiotherapy clinic in downtown Vancouver.  She is one of only 26 registered Sport Physiotherapists in the lower mainland of BC. Timberly loves to run and cycle and is passionate about injury prevention in the sporting community.