*This post comes to use from our sponsor OrthoNebraska and was written by Lindsey Meyer, PT, DPT.

Welcome to spring, runners! Many of you have spent the last couple of months logging sweaty miles on the treadmill or trudging through the snow and ice. The start of nicer weather also brings some popular races. Many of you will be running Lincoln full/half marathon, running loops at Dizzy GOAT, or signing up for fall races. Here are a few key tips to keep you injury-free and ready to have a great race.

3 steps of running

Remember the 3 steps of running. Warm-up, Peak Work, and Cool Down. Warming up and cooling down improves the quality of runs, helps avoid injury and reduces muscle soreness after hard training runs.

Slowly increase mileage

A common race training mistake is to increase your mileage too quickly. Avoid any sudden increases. Don’t increase mileage by more than 5% to 10% every week.

Start slow

Start all your workouts at a slower pace. The slower pace gives your muscles, heart and breathing rates a chance to warm up and increase gradually.

Don’t forget to recover

Proper recovery is needed after a long run. Don’t skimp on post-run meal. A good protein/carb meal within 30 minutes of completing your run will help speed recovery. Post-run is also a good time to stretch and ice aches/pains as needed. If you can tolerate, an ice bath will help begin the repair of muscle tissues.

Keep track

Log your training. After you have a great run (or a not-so-great run), take a second to jot down what you did (or didn’t do) that might have contributed to your performance. Could it have been a certain food or combination of food, a certain stretching regimen, the amount of sleep you did (or didn’t) get? By keeping a log of good/bad runs, you can start to spot trends which should help you really nail a sound training strategy – more specifically, a sound strategy that works for you!

“Every day is a good day when you run.”    -Kevin Nelson