HEALTHY, HAPPY RUNNING
My advice for staying injury-free forever
On July 12, 2015,
I ran the Missoula Marathon (Montana, US), my 200th 26.2-miler, to celebrate turning 70. I competed in the 1972 Olympics in the 10,000 metres, and as I trained to remain a top athlete I developed an Achilles problem in 1977. Then I had an epiphany: I wanted to enjoy every run, pain-free, for the rest of my life. I’ve run almost every day since 1978 without injury. Here’s how I do it – and how you can, too. TAKE WALK BREAKS Doing a mixture of running and walking gives me control over how I feel on a run and how quickly I recover. If I start to feel sore or tired, I can adjust the amount of running and walking to heal while I continue my daily runs. Run-walking in races helps me bounce back quickly. SHORTEN YOUR STRIDE Taking short steps and keeping your feet close to the ground reduces stress on your feet, legs, joints, muscles and tendons. A short stride, paired with walk breaks, can keep your legs feeling strong even as your body loses flexibility and muscle mass with age. RACE YOUR WAY FIT I stopped speedwork in 1978 – if I wanted to run fast, I’d enter a 5K. I also started to look at marathons as long training runs rather than races – two years later I ran my PB (2:16). Races offer a sense of community and a mental boost that help you run faster with less effort. BE OPEN TO CHANGE Runners are stubborn, especially those who’ve been at it for years. Many hesitate to slow down, add walk breaks or run fewer days, even as they stop enjoying their runs (and get injured). But change is good – the right strategy can allow mature runners to feel good on every run.