Five Mistakes That Lead to Injury

Running the long run too fast
Most of the injury reports from the thousands of marathoners and half marathoners who contact me each year are directly tied to the pace of the long run. A safe pace for most runners, at 60 degrees, is two minutes per mile slower than current marathon race pace (or 2.5 min/mi slower than half-marathon race pace). Even when slowing down to four or five minutes per mile slower, the endurance benefit is the same as when you’re running at a faster pace. It’s also important to slow down 30 seconds a mile for every five degrees Fahrenheit above 60. An adjustment in run-walk-run frequency should be made based upon the pace that you currently run.

Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run Segments
8 min/mi: run 4 minutes/walk 30 seconds
9 min/mi: run 4 minutes/walk 1 minute
10 min/mi: run 3 minutes/walk 1 minute
11 min/mi: run 2:30/walk 1 minute
12 min/mi: run 2 minutes/walk 1 minute
13 min/mi: run 1 minute/walk 1 minute
14 min/mi: run 30 seconds/walk 30 seconds
15 min/mi: run 30 seconds/walk 45 seconds
16 min/mi: run 20 seconds/walk 40 seconds

Stride length too long
Studies on runners have shown that the top running-form mistake is having a stride that is too long. Other studies show that as runners get faster, the stride length tends to shorten. The mechanical key to running faster is through quicker turnover. In my training groups, retreats and individual consultations, I’ve found a simple cadence drill can improve the turnover of feet and legs, which improves efficiency.

Stretching a tight tendon or muscle
Fatigue-induced tightness is a natural part of running. Trying to stretch out this tightness will often lead to the tearing of muscle and tendon fibers – and injury. Massage is a better way to help these areas recover. A successful warm up starts with a three-to-five-minute walk followed by a gentle introduction to running: run a minute/walk a minute for four to six minutes, then run two minutes/walk a minute for six to nine minutes. Massage can bring blood flow to these areas after a tough workout, speeding up recovery. If you have stretches that work for you, and don’t produce injury or longer recovery, then use them if you wish. But be careful.

Too much speedwork, too soon
Speedwork increases injury risk. When you ramp up the quantity of speedwork too quickly, or run too fast several times a week, the risk is dramatic. If you plan to do realistic speedwork, start with a few repetitions, rest adequately between each, and gradually increase the quantity. It’s best to rest from running (or any calf muscle exercise) the day before a speed workout and the day after. If you feel pain or any signs of injury, stop the workout right away.

Switching from a worn-out shoe to a new one
It’s never a good idea to run in a shoe until it is totally worn out. When you find a shoe that works for you, go to a technical running store and buy an identical shoe. If the shoe has already been revised by the time you visit the store, knowledgeable staff members can identify several shoes that are very similar to the one you like. Once a week, run in the old shoe for most of the run and then put on the new pair during the last half mile or so. This gradually breaks in the new one, and helps you determine when the old one is worn out

Over a million runners have purchased Jeff Galloway’s books or attended his running schools, retreats at Tahoe or the beach or Galloway training programs. Send questions or sign up for his free newsletter at

This story was taken from Competitor Magazine online.