Jon Duellman PT
Half Marathon Training and Injuries
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
In April, the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) published research related to injuries for runners training for a half marathon. As someone who designs running programs, I'm very interested in this research to optimize my approach to programming.
In this study, they followed 261 runners during 14 weeks prior to running a half marathon. They collected data on the distances using GPS watches or smartphones during the period. Runners also filled out a questionnaire on any injuries that occurred.
So what did they find out?
A total of 56 (21.5%) runners were injured during follow-up.
Runners who increased weekly mileage by 20% or more had significantly more injuries in the first month of training.
Later in training, the weekly mileage did not seem to have a significant impact.
So what does this mean?
The common sense saying of don't do too much, too soon is accurate here. This is nothing new. However, research is honing in on the optimal range of training that provides the best performance with the least risk of injury. There is a sweet spot.
When I develop running programs, I primarily use the acute/chronic workload to determine a reasonable progression of distance and intensity that does not increase the risk of injury. Using the combined research available, I avoid the peak injury rates by using that sweet spot of optimal performance and reduced injuries. I use a calculation to find this throughout my runners programs. This study is more support for what I do already which is avoid progressing too fast, too soon.
Happy Running! Share this with any runners you may know.
Reference: Damsted, C., Parner, E. T., Sørensen, H., Malisoux, L., Hulme, A., & Nielsen, R. Ø. (2019). The Association Between Changes in Weekly Running Distance and Running–Related Injury: Preparing for a Half Marathon. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 49(4), 230–238. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2019.8541