Why Runners Need to Take the Time to Heal #running #marathon

running-advice-bugWhen an injury happens many runners want to push on through and keep on training. The problem is that training while injured typically just sets them back further by both delaying their recovery and reducing the quality of the training that they’re doing. In other words, they’re not only making it take longer to get back on track, but their performance is even being further reduced by doing garbage training. A reader wrote in to me with the follow question and I’d like to share my answer with you:


My boyfriend and I both run cross country. A few weeks into the season, my boyfriend got injured and his performance has been suffering ever since. He never gave his initial injury proper healing time, and as a result he has been battling various pains all season. His injuries are really killing him, and as a fellow runner, I know how he feels. This has been happening for over a month and he brings it up at least every other day. I’ve been supportive, sympathic, and as motivating as I can be, but I just don’t know what else to say to him anymore. I tried giving him advice on how to heal, but he just keeps running and ignoring his discomfort. Then when he does bad at a race, he complains. It hurts him to watch the rest of the team improve, while his performance slowly declines. He has every right to be sad, and I want him to talk to me about what is bothering him, but I just don’t know what to do anymore. How do I raise his spirits? Should I talk to him? If so how do I do that?

The first thing to understand is that his performance in his races is tied to the quality of his training. When he’s injured, he can’t get the quality in his training that allows him to improve. This means that not only is he not getting faster, but the rest of his team is getting better as they train, so the gap will just grow so long as the injury is still slowing down his training.

I wanted to start there, because he needs to understand that every time he trains with his injury he’s just delaying the day until his training can get back on track. He does need to recover from the injury, let it heal, see the sports trainer, stretch and do everything else to get better. He needs to do that in order to train fast again.

I see this a lot with runners where they kind of keep on going through the motions of training, but they aren’t getting any benefit out of it, simply because they’re hurt. The only impact of their training is to delay getting better.
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Training — How much running is too much for teens?

Coach Dean Hebert

Coach Dean Hebert

Coach Dean Hebert joins us today to answer a question from a parent, asking about how much running is too much for teen runners:

My daughter runs on a local cross country team. They start running every morning in the summer, 3 miles to 4 miles a day. In August they begin running 4-6 miles a day with races every weekend. In September they begin running 4-5 miles in the mornings and 3-5 miles in the afternoons. They had a retreat over the weekend and ran 20 miles of practice. Every year by this time of year…. the girls team of about 15 members, ages 13 years old to 18 years old at least 1-2 girls have stress fractures in their legs. Are they being trained too hard? Is this too intense for this age group? Marki

The proof is in the pudding. Though teen runners are more likely to encounter injuries due to their initial lack of conditioning and lack of year round training something like stress fractures at that rate is extreme. In all my years of coaching runners of all ages (including teen girls) I would be exaggerating if the incidence of stress fractures are 1 in 100 (or more) per year. 1-2 out of 15 is indeed excessive.

The rule of thumb is still to increase mileage about 10% per week. So let’s do the math together. If the team runs everyday 3 or 4 miles per day then they are running 15-28 miles per week to start out. By September, they are running as much as 8-10 miles per day, which is 50-70 miles per week! And add to that 20 miles in a single weekend retreat. This would be a lot of miles even for marathon runners, but the question I have is for what purpose are all these miles being run? Their cross-country race is only 5k!
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Cross-country — DiCrescenzo, King lead team USA at 2010 NACAC Cross Country Championships

running-advice-bugTOBAGO – Delilah DiCrescenzo (New York, N.Y.) and Max King (Bend, Ore.) each won the individual open women’s and men’s titles to lead Team USA to the respective open team titles Saturday at the sixth annual North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Cross Country Championships at the Mt. Irvine Resort in Tobago.

The NACAC Championships contested races for the open men’s 8 km, open women’s 6 km, junior men’s 6 km and junior women’s 4 km.

King took charge early to win the open men’s 8 km in 23 minutes, 49 seconds, leading the U.S. squad to a perfect score of 10 points. Michael Spence (Ogden, Utah) finished 17 seconds behind King for the runner-up position while Bobby Mack (Raleigh, N.C.) and Thomas Kloos (San Francisco, Calif.) rounded out the scoring places for Team USA, running 24:26 and 24:34 for third and fourth-place respectively. Stephen Furst (Raleigh, N.C.) ran 24:46 for sixth-place overall. Mexico took the runner-up team position with 34 points.
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Cross-country — Ritzenhein, Flanagan dominate at USA Cross Country Championships

running-advice-bugSPOKANE – American record holders Dathan Ritzenhein (Portland, Ore.) and Shalane Flanagan (Pittsboro, N.C.) dominated the open men’s and women’s fields at the 2010 USA Cross Country Championships Saturday at Plantes Ferry Recreation Park in Spokane, Wash.Running 34 minutes 34 seconds for the open men’s 12- kilometer race, Ritzenhein won his third U.S. Cross Country title. Flanagan’s 25 minutes 10 seconds for the open women’s 8-kilometer was good for her fourth national cross country crown.

In addition to the national titles, the top-six open men and women and junior men and women qualified to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 28 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Flanagan cruises to women’s title
Flanagan took control of the open women’s 8 km from the gun with two-time USA Women’s 10 km Champion Molly Huddle (Providence, R.I.) the only one that tried to keep pace. By the end of the first 2-kilometer loop, Flanagan held a five second lead over Huddle. Over the final six kilometers Flanagan extended her lead to go to a 51-second victory. Huddle held off a late charge by Amy Hastings (Flagstaff, Ariz.) to hold on for second, running 26:01. Hastings was timed in 26:09 while Magdalena Lewy Boulet took fourth in 26:09.
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Video – Season 2 – Episode 11 — Mileage and Young Runners

running-advice-bugOur video series continues rolling along this week with an episode that goes out to the young runners, their parents and coaches this week. Coaches Joe and Dean are sitting on Runner’s Sofa talking about how much should high-school track and cross-country runners run.

On this week’s episode:
– How many miles should young runners be running?
– How many miles is enough to prepare for high-school and cross-country running events?
– Why should runners avoid running too many miles at a young age?
– How should parents and students deal with coaches that are assigning too many miles?

Season 2 – Episode 11 — Mileage and Young Runners from Joe English on Vimeo.

Coach Dean has a book on this subject called: Runners Take Your Mark: The Parents’ Guide to Youth Track and Field. If you’d like more information about the book, click here.

To visit our video pages with links to all of the episodes in the series, go to:
Season 1 Video Page

Season 2 Video Page

Running Advice and News


Cross-country — Blake braves snow to repeat at Junior Olympic XC Champs

running-advice-bugINDIANAPOLIS – Following an hour-long delay due to snowy conditions, Samuel Blake brought home another national cross country title, and the San Diego Road Runners and the Equalizers each brought home two team titles Saturday at the 2009 USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno, Nevada.

The event featured more than 2,300 runners, with athletes aged 8 to 18 competing for boys’ and girls’ titles in five age divisions. The USATF Junior Olympic program age divisions are bantam (10 and under) racing over 3 kilometers; midget (11-12) racing 3 km; youth (13-14) racing 4 km; intermediate (15-16) racing 5 km; and young men/women (17-18) racing 5 km.

The 2008 midget boys champion, Samuel Blake (Los Gatos AA) was back again in 2009 to claim his second consecutive title, covering the 3 km course in 10:12. Runner-up Ryan Alexander of the Equalizers was 13 seconds back, finishing in 10:25.

O’Briens’ Ammar Moussa, who took fourth just last weekend at the Nike Cross National Championships, won the Intermediate Boys competition in 15:54, finishing just ahead of teammate Luis Gutierrez who was the runner-up in 16:00. On the girls side, Team Idaho’s Emily Nist dominated the competition, completing the course in 18:42. Runner-up Krista Menghini of the Blazers TC finished in 19:09.
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Cross-country — Boulder Running, ZAP Fitness win USATF cross-country titles

running-advice-bugLEXINGTON – The women of Boulder Running Company/adidas successfully defended their title and the Zap Fitness men won their third team championship in four years Saturday at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships at Masterson Station Park in Lexington, Ky.

The 12th annual USATF National Club Cross Country Championships featured mare than 1,000 athletes representing America’s top post-collegiate club teams from across the United States. Athletes competed for a total prize purse of $30,000, as well as team and individual titles at 10-kilometer for men and 6-kilometer for women.

In the open women’s race, Serena Burla (Ellisville, Mo.), used the final one-kilometer uphill to pull away for the individual title, running 20:23 for the 6 km course. Kim Conley (West Sacramento, Calif.) took the runner-up spot, finishing in 20:36 as Alissa McKaig (Blowing Rock, N.C.) finished third in 20:38.

In the team race the Boulder Running Company/adidas had more of a fight on their hands as they dueled with McMillan Elite through mid-race before pulling away for a 15 point win. The Asics Aggies took third with 109 points.
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Cross-country — Chelanga, Bizzarri win 2009 NCAA Championships

running-advice-bugINDIANAPOLIS – University of Illinois senior Angela Bizzarri surprised the women’s field and 2008 runner-up Samuel Chelanga, a junior from Liberty University, dominated the men’s field Monday at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships Monday in Terre Haute, Ind.

Chelanga was timed in a course record 28:42 for the men’s 10 km and Bizzarri ran 19:47 for the women’s 6 km.

The men’s race, the first of the day, saw Chelanga jump to an early lead which was never threatened. His winning margin was 25 seconds over Northern Arizona University junior David McNeil.

Oklahoma State was led by senior Ryan Vail as the Cowboys scored 127 points to take the men’s team title, defeating defending team champions from the University of Oregon by 16 points.

Many anticipated a run-away win in the women’s race as well, with Colorado University senior Jenny Barringer the overwhelming favorite. As she dueled with Florida State senior Susan Kuijken through three kilometers, it was apparent that the American record holder had a race on her hands. Shortly after the 3 km mark, Kuijken surged to the lead and Barringer faltered, quickly losing ground. Over the next 2 km, Kuijken looked to be on her way to the title, and as Bizzarri and University of Washington sophomore Kendra Schaaf seemed to be engaged in a duel for second, they began to close the gap.
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Cross-country — Ethiopia’s Gebremariam wins; Kenya takes title at World XC Championships

AMMAN, JORDAN — In a thrilling finish, Gebre Gebremariam came from behind to outkick his rivals to win the 2009 World Cross-country Championships in Amman today. The Ethiopian Gebremariam knocked off his competition in the final sprint to take the individual title, while Kenya won the overall team title for the 22nd time in 24 years.

Gebremariam finished the 12KM long-course cross-country circuit in 35:02. A pair of finishers came in just two seconds back. Moses Kipsoro from Uganda and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea finished second and third respectively in 35:04.

gebre-gebremariam-wins-2009-wxcc-champsThe first Kenyan finisher was Leonard Komon in fourth place, followed by Mathew Kisoro (6th), Mark Kiptoo (7th), and Moses Mosop (11th) to give Kenya the team title. The scoring was so close that it came down to a tie-breaker between Mosop and 12th place Feyisa Lilesa for Kenya to edge out the Ethiopian delegation. Kenya has not had an overall winner since Paul Tergat won the title in 1999.

After winning the Junior title in 2002, Gebremariam won the Senior Long Course bronze in 2003 and double silvers – both Long Course and Short Course – in 2004. Since 2005 his results have been mixed and last year he placed only 17th in the Long Course race.
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Cross-country — Kiplagat, Kenya win women’s cross-country World Championship

kiplagat-wins-ammanAMMAN, JORDAN — As the running world turned to Amman Jordan today for the 2009 World Cross-country Championships, Florence Kiplagat led the Kenyan team to the win as she narrowly took the individual title. Her Kenyan teammate Linet Masai finished just three seconds behind her.

Kiplagat won the 8KM race in 26:13 with Masai finishing in 26:16. Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia finished third in 26:19.

The world championships were held about 20KM outside of Amman at the Bisharat Golf Club. The course featured two loops and two major ascents.

Kiplagat came from behind on the final ascent of the course to edge out Masai in the closing meters of the course. She was so surprised by the win that she reportedly fainted after finishing.
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