Distance Running Do’s and Don’ts

Distance Running Do’s and Don’ts

Over the last few weeks I’ve been treating a lot of patients in preparation for this year’s Melbourne Marathon trying to get them ready for the race. It’s a goal that has taken a lot of time and planning to get ready for, in some cases an entire year. So if you’re thinking about starting to put the kilometres into the legs to get ready for next year’s event here are some important Dos and Don’ts that will make sure you can finish on top.

Running too much too soon

One of the most common problems I see in all patients who take up any type of exercise, not just running is that they do too much too soon. This can lead to many overuse injuries such as Patellar Tracking Disorders and ITB Syndrome. I appreciate that in the beginning it’s easy to be overly enthusiastic and want to make big gains quickly, but remember if you break down with injury…well you won’t be going anywhere.

If you’ve never run before, start by walking. If you’re coming back from a break from running, start slow a build yourself up. It takes a long time for your body to strengthen and adapt to the stresses you put it through so be patient and give yourself time. As a general rule I recommend never increasing the distance of a run by more than 10% a week.


You’re body doesn’t get stronger when you’re running, it gets stronger when you’re not. This means you need rest. Always give yourself at least a day off to recover between training runs. If you can’t possibly bear the thought of having a day of complete rest then try cross-training with other methods. Cycling, swimming, resistance weights are all great low impact alternatives that will spare some of the muscles you’ve already worked running.

Run with good form

Like everything good form in exercise is what will give you the most biomechanically efficient movement to complete an action. It will also put less strain on your muscles, joints and tendons. Running with good form involves the following points:

Feet strike the ground flat slightly toward the forefoot, NOT on the heel. The foot should kick toward the butt on the recovery phase of the stride. Knees are nice and high, 90 degrees of hip flexion.

Good running form though doesn’t just involve the lower half of your body, what you do on top is just as important. By maintaining good upper body form you minimize any movements that are not involved in propelling yourself forward. Good upper body form involves the following:

Keep the head and back upright with shoulders back and relaxed. Not only will this give you a good base to run from it will also allow you to breathe easier.

Elbows should be at 90 degrees with hands nice and relaxed to avoid tension through the arms.
Shoulders swing naturally back and forth with no sideways movement. The elbows should almost touch the sides of the body during this movement

Your body is a machine, keep in tuned

If you’re going to treat your body like a racing car or bike then it’s going to need to be looked after in the same way. That means regular maintenance treatment to keep working parts moving well and efficiently to avoid a break down.

Professional athletes who train regularly have an entire pit crew of professionals looking after their bodies but amateur athletes all too often neglect this part of their training. Here at the Sports and Spinal group an Osteopath will look at your whole body to identify any musculoskeletal dysfunction that could predispose you to injury or slow you down. Treatment of those dysfunctions may involve soft tissue massage, joint adjustment and stretching techniques to correct the problem. We can also provide you with a personalized rehabilitation exercise routine just for you, to make sure injury doesn’t stop you achieving your goal & to keep you running at your best.

If you’re suffering from pain while running or you want to avoid an unscheduled pit stop due to injury, give us a call at the clinic.

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