While you might be focused on increasing your mileage, improving your speed or losing weight, there is one goal every runner should always have in mind: preventing injury. To get some simple, practical tips on doing so, read my quick guide.

Before you runRunning

OK, let’s start by looking at what you can do before you run. Here are my top tips:

Make sure you have the right shoes:

As any keen runner will already know, not all shoes are created equal. If you haven’t already, get yourself over to a good sports shop and have your gait analysed. This takes mere minutes and will help you choose trainers with the right support for you – a key part of keeping yourself injury-free. You should also remember to replace your shoes every 500 miles you’ve run.

Have a varied training programme

A mistake many runners make is to constantly push themselves harder and harder. Instead, to promote muscle recovery – and to train different muscles – vary your runs. For instance, have one workout a week that is slower than your usual pace, as well as an interval training session to improve your speed. This kind of variety can help keep overuse injuries at bay.

During your run

During your run, you need to do two key things: be aware of your form, and listen to your body. Let’s start with the first point.

By being aware of your form, I mean that you should consider things like posture and how/where your feet are landing. Improving your form can lower the risk of injury, because you won’t put excessive pressure in the wrong place.

For example, when your foot makes contact with the ground, you shouldn’t land heel-first (known as heel-striking). Instead, aim to land with your mid-foot and roll through to the toes. By avoiding heel-striking, you will reduce the level of shock going up to your knees.

Turning to the second point, you should aim to be aware of how your body feels when it runs. Any persistent sharp pains (i.e. those that last more than ten minutes) are likely to be the sign of an injury in the making, so be ready to cut your run short and reduce your mileage/run intensity accordingly over the coming weeks to give the affected area time to recover.

After you run

Your run might be finished, but your workout shouldn’t be over yet – not until you’ve stretched. Post-run stretches are absolutely vital in the battle against injury, since they restore flexibility to your muscles and reduce stiffness. If you skip stretching after runs, over time you will find your muscles have a reduced range of movement, which can result in an injury.

Each stretch should be held for 20 to 30 seconds. If you know you have any problematic areas, make sure you spend plenty of time focusing on these, but don’t ignore the other major muscle groups, particularly in the lower body.

Another way you can help promote muscle recovery is by investing in a product likeĀ OXYfit. These oxygen canisters allow you to inhale oxygen-enriched air, which can have the dual benefit of encouraging your body to recover faster, and improving future performance.

On days when you are not running, you might find ‘active recovery’ is useful. This just involves doing 20 to 30 minutes of low-impact exercise, like walking or gentle cycling. This increases blood flow to the muscles without placing them under too much stress, which can mean they recover more quickly.