“I just want to run again” is a phrase uttered by more patients than I can count. We all use running for different reasons, but most of us can agree that it brings us joy, purpose and fulfillment. So how do we keep it in our lives without hurting ourselves or losing the ability to do it enjoyably.  There is no way to completely prevent injuries, and if there is I have yet to meet the runner who has achieved this feat. Reframing how we look at injuries is an important step towards becoming a resilient runner.  Injuries that develop slowly over time (not twisting your ankle on a tricky bit of trail) I describe as “tissue tolerance” issues. This means that whatever tissue you were stressing has reached its threshold and now is doing its best to communicate that sensation to you.  Think of these aches and pains of running as your body’s best way of talking to you. Listen and respect this communication and you are well on your way to becoming a resilient runner. I believe in three primary pillars that are crucial to consistent running with nutrition as a fourth that I will mention here, but is not my field of expertise.

Start Slow and Keep it Gradual

Slow additions and adjustments to training allow for appropriate periods of adaptation.  Read that again and really let it sink in.  Most online training protocols do not respect this first pillar and too rapidly increase volume or intensity (or sometimes both).  Every runner’s situation is individual so I suggest working with a good coach to develop your own plan and timeline, but consider developing a strong sense of patience if you have big goals in your own running.  It can take years to bump up your volume safely and in many cases a plateau in mileage for “blocks” of training is appropriate to allow your body to adapt and adjust to this new stimulus.

Schedule Your Runs Around The Important Stuff, Not The Other Way Around

Most of you reading this are not professional runners, so you must balance life, family, job and running just fits in the cracks. Making sure that your consistent run schedule is not interfering with these other aspects of your daily life will allow you to decrease feelings of isolation or resentment towards running. It should be a part of your life that doesn’t interrupt everything else around it. This important pillar leads to a healthier outlook and makes running something you get to do, not “have to do”.


Strength Training Is Crucial

As a Physical Therapist I always believe that strength training with a good coach or PT is crucial to long term success as a runner.  This does not mean hours and hours in the gym taking away from your favorite trail time.  It can be as short as 20-30 minutes twice a week.  Power is important to develop as a robust athlete and distance runners regardless of age are not exempt from this rule.  Low repetition compound lifts including squats or lunges along with high velocity jumping and plyometrics are both crucial aspects of power development and should be included in a well-developed plan with your coach or trainer.  I would also include various dynamic balance exercises in the single leg stance to ensure that power development is possible during the mid-stance of your running cycle.

Trust Your Body

Resilient running may seem like a complex question that has eluded many of us for our running careers. Learning to trust your own body, schedule running appropriately into your life, and making your system strong and robust are steps you can take to begin this process. Running is a life-long endeavor and I believe that everyone can develop this resiliency to enjoy every step on the way.

Evan Price is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Endurance Sports Coach at Evolution Healthcare and Fitness in Portland, OR. You can reach him at evanp@evolutionhealthcareandfitness.com