How To Avoid 3 Common Running Injuries

You love to run, but you hate admitting you may have an injury, especially if you’ve gone to the doctor and heard the dreaded words… just STOP running for awhile. 


The fact is that 27-70% of recreational runners experience a running injury during a training year. For a lot of people running is medicine, it helps keep the crazy away, decrease stress, push yourself to heights you never thought you could! So how do we help prevent all of our hard marathon or race training going out the window by having to sit out due to injury?

Do any of these sound like you?

Runner/Walker #1: I’ve been noticing some pain around or under your kneecap that has slowly become annoying after runs, you shake it off at first but now the front of your knee has been bothering you more and more over the last weeks

Runner/Walker #2: You’ve decided to up your running and train for a half or full marathon or you haven’t been as consistent with your running and you up the mileage… but now you’ve began to notice some tenderness on the outside of lower leg that as you get warmed up it goes away and then after your done it comes back

Runner/Walker #3: Ok, you are starting to up your training intensity and miles (yippee for hill repeats, track workouts or increasing your mileage) but have been waking up with sharp pain on bottom of foot especially near your heel. After walking a bit its better. It’s been a few weeks now and its starting to be a bear getting more painful with prolonged standing, getting up after sitting a bit or climbing stairs

Let’s take a look at these 3 common running related injuries, what they are and ways to help prevent them.

Runner’s Knee (Runner #1)

Definition: knee cap not moving as it should, cause rubbing, irritation and lead to grinding down of cartilage

Causes: potentially weak quads, poor foot mechanics, tight ITB

How To Decrease Risk: Strengthen quadriceps and gluts, no big jumps in training mileage, proper stretching post run for hamstrings and quads

Shin Splints (MTSS) (Runner #2)

Definition: muscle most affected is tibalis anterior which goes from your knee down to your ankle. Pain is located at lower leg next to shin bone. Another important distinction is to rule-out compartment syndrome or stress fracture which are a lot more serious so another set of eyes are key for pain in this area

Causes: overuse injury: characterized by the “Too’s: training too hard, too fast or too long, also running downhill, old footwear

How To Decrease Risk: recognize tenderness in shin early and don’t try to power through, that can result in creating microtears and longer recovery

No big jumps in training load, keep track of mileage on footwear (general guidelines new shoes every 250-300 miles) and also think about having several pairs of running shoes to rotate

Plantar Fasciitis (Runner #3)

Definition: symptoms of stabbing pain or dull ache across bottom of foot, can normally pinpoint a real aggravated area near your heel; usually worst pain in the morning; small microtears of tendons and ligaments that run along the bottom of foot, name implies inflammation but alot of times you won’t see “swelling or inflammation”

Causes: overuse, won’t be any specific event that occurred, increased training (are you seeing a theme here..),

How To Decrease Risk: Good running form, strength training and proper shoes! No surprise here strengthening foot and big toe, foot alignment and footwear check, adequate warm-up prior to running. Also here’s a quick video of my favorite ways to revive tired and achy feet!

Let’s face it, we are runners and at some point an ache, pain or injury will occur! That’s just the nature of the beast! But taking steps to help decrease risk and recognize when you should seek outside help can keep you on the pavement, happy and crushing goals!

Don’t let a running injury take you out! Listen to your body and don’t wait to get checked out if you do start having nagging aches and pains. Happy Running!

Dr Latisha Williams @runforlifeindy, is a new member of Indy Runners, loves helping others, has been a physical therapist since 2007, RRCA Certified Run Coach and Owner of Run For Life Performance & Physical Therapy

Getting Down to Business.

There are few things worse than finding yourself still in line for a port-a-potty when the gun goes off at the start of your race. Here are a few tips to help keep the lines moving so you can get moving.

Get Down to Business. When you arrive at the race site, scope out the port-a-potty situation. Often times, you’ll find more than one bank of pots with varying wait times. Cue up and do your business before everyone else has the same idea.

Line Up
. You’ve likely seen a wide variety of lines form outside a row of port-a-potties. Some with one line per porta. Some separated by gender. Some with a single line feeding dozens of stalls. Some with just a blob of people waiting with no real order.

One of the more efficient options is to create one line for every 

4-5 potties. Think zones or sections. This will reduce the steps (and time) needed to get to the next available porta, yet prevent you from getting stuck in line behind ‘that guy’.

Get ready. Get set. Go. 
When you’re nearing the front of the line, pay attention. Get to a stopping place in your conversation, scan your section of potties and be ready to move when you see a door beginning to open.

The person before you will be polite and hold the door open for you, saving valuable seconds. Repay the favor and hold the door as you exit.

They’re made for one thing: pottying. 
Port-a-potties are not changing rooms, phone booths or … well, whatever othere use just popped in your mind. Really, who wants to hang out in there any longer than necessary!?

Although lines are more common before a race, there are often runners and spectators in need of the facilities after the race – often urgently. As a side note, if the units aren’t in constant use (i.e., no line), put the seat down. This will help ventilate the unit and minimize the odor.

Participants Get Priority. 
It takes a lot of people to put on a race, including volunteers and spectators and we get that they’ve all been drinking coffee since way before dawn. As much as possible, please allow runners and walkers to take priority in the line, especially if you can hear the National Anthem playing in the distance.

Lock the Door Behind You. Yes, this may cost you a few seconds, but the fright resulting from facing a stranger with your running tights around your ankles will cost you much more time.

If you find yourself in need of a pit stop during the race, look for port-a-potties along the course – often located near aid stations. Please avoid using lawns or alleyways, as tempting as they may seem.

 It’s rude, not to mention unsanitary.

flanagan-shalanetoilet-boston18-1523927399

As Shalane has shown, it is possible to go fast…

View Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t131MwydJlc 

Author’s Note: the porta does NOT double as a trash receptacle. Banana peels, gel packs, and car keys should not find their way into the bowl. Think about the poor person who has to fish those items out before the bio waste can be dealt with.

Why the Long Run (or Walk)? Or a distance athlete walks into a bar…

For as long as I have been a distance athlete, I’ve done a long run once a week. My first long runs were six grueling miles on the country roads of Bloomington, Indiana as a high school cross country athlete. Nowadays, I can log up to 30 miles during a long run if I’m training for an ultra event. And although it’s practically a distance running cliche, I believe the long run is the most important run of the week.

What is a long run? Why is it so important? What’s going on under the hood, so to speak? And what is up with this bar and where is the bartender? I will try to shed some light on the former three questions, but you’re on your own with the last one. What exactly is a long run and what you are getting out of it?

Author’s note: While I am using the term “long run” throughout this post, please note that the same training guidelines and physiological concepts apply if you are a distance walker and not a runner! Get after it!

What is a “long run”?

The short answer: it’s the longest run of the week. Shocking, I know. The distance and duration will vary depending on the race you’re training for. If you are training for a half marathon, your long run will be less than someone’s who is training for a marathon. In order to facilitate the necessary physiological changes for performing well at longer distances (i.e. full- and half-marathons), the total time of a long run should be more than 90-105 minutes regardless of pace.

Why are “long runs” important? And what’s going on under the hood?

  • Energy Efficiency: Running long distances improves your body’s ability to store glycogen (energy in the form of stored carbohydrates), handle glycogen depletion (when your body starts to run low on fuel), manage muscle fatigue, and use fat in conjunction with glycogen as energy.
  • Muscle Adaptation: During your long run, the cells that make up your muscles increase in size by adding more fibers (the parts that contract) and mitochondria (the parts of the cells that use oxygen to generate energy). There is also an increase in enzymes–which ultimately increases the rate at which delivered oxygen can be used to create energy. And finally, more capillaries become active within exercising muscles, delivering oxygen to and removing waste from them more efficiently.
  • Running Economy: Simply put, running long increases your body’s ability to utilize oxygen more efficiently.
  • Aerobic Capacity: Most runners, especially new runners, are greatly held back by their lack of aerobic capacity (a measure of efficiency, as described above). The biggest gains you can make in overall performance come with increasing aerobic capacity, and running long is one of the best ways to do that.
  • Mental Toughness: News Flash — When running long distances, there is likely some amount of discomfort that you have to manage. If this hasn’t been your experience, I would suggest maybe running farther or faster. Anyway, the more you run long the better you will be at handling the discomfort–emotionally and physically.
  • Specificity of Training: This means that the system you stress is the system that improves. So basically, if you are training for a long distance race, you are going to get the most benefit from running long distances. Micheal Jordan didn’t become a great basketball player by riding a bike!

Final Thoughts and A Word of Warning

So now that I’ve unlocked all the mysteries behind the long run (or walk), you’re ready to get out there and go for as long as you can the next chance you get, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. To minimize your risk of injury, you need to build up your long run over time and in a responsible manner. That means that if the longest you’ve ever run is 6 miles, it’s probably not a good idea to go out for 16 miles tomorrow. A good training program (especially for newer runners) will increase your long run duration over the course of a training cycle (e.g. 12-16 weeks for a half- or full-marathon) and typically have 1 recovery week per month where the distance of your long run is decreased.

I hope that this information has helped you better understand why it is beneficial to incorporate a long run or walk into your training and what you are getting out of it. If you think I got something wrong or left something out, be sure to let me know in the comments. Also, if you liked this blog post, next time you see me out in the real world shout “Mitochondria!” so I know you read the whole thing!

Running & Walking Nutrition Basics

I vividly remember the moment I started to appreciate the relationship between food and running. It was my freshman year of high school (Go Panthers!) when I discovered both distance running and gyros at the exact same time. I thought gyros were the perfect lunch–until I ate one on the same day as a track workout. Let’s just say that after that day my relationship with gyros changed forever. And my understanding of how to properly eat before a workout (and why) got a little better.

My next big revelation about nutrition and its impact on running came after college when I started running longer and longer distances (marathons and ultra marathons). Luckily, I had an experienced distance-running coach who explained the importance of in-race nutrition and its impact on performance. Even after 26 marathons and a half dozen or so ultra marathons in just over a decade, I am still playing with what works best for my body during long running events.

While I am not claiming to be a Sports Nutritionist, I do have a lot of experience when it comes to seeking out and finding the right fuel for my endurance events of choice. This is probably the topic that gets brought up the most when I talk with new half- and full-marathon runners.

If you are planning to run a race of ninety minutes or more and you are not thinking about a nutrition plan, you might want to start!

Below are some basic rules of thumb that I follow. Keep in mind that everyone is different and it is important to experiment and figure out what works best for you.

Nutrition Pre-Exercise or Pre-Race: (Source: Cassie Dimmick)

  • Shorter weekday workouts: eat 30-60 min before
  • Longer weekend workouts or competition: eat 2-3 hours before (Don’t worry about waking up that early before the long run unless you are simulating race day. Eat well the night before and snack 30-45 minutes before running.)
  • Choose a meal or snack that is low in fat, contains complex carbohydrates, and has a little protein.
  • Rule of Half: half a bagel, half a banana, half a cup of coffee, etc
  • Eat familiar foods that you know you can tolerate
  • Practice leading up to a long distance race
  • Drink 10-16 oz of fluid 1-2 hours before exercise and another 4-8 oz right before you start.

Pre-Exercise food examples:

  • Granola bar and a banana
  • English muffin or bagel with peanut butter and a piece of fruit
  • Smoothie
  • Nutrition Bar
  • Gel or Sports Chews
  • Pretzels

Nutrition During Exercise or Race: (Source: Cassie Dimmick)

  • Muscles use glycogen (the stored energy form of carbohydrates) and fat for fuel. Both fat and glycogen are used in most activities. Fat can be used as a fuel during aerobic exercise (long, low intensity exercise), but glycogen is the main fuel during strenuous exercise (running a half or full marathon) and anaerobic exercise (short bursts of all-out running).
  • For exercise over 90 minutes, you need additional carbs from gels, bars, or other well-tolerated foods.
  • For runs up to 120 minutes, 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour of exercise is helpful.
  • For runs over 120 minutes, aim for 60-90 grams per hour as tolerated.

Examples of approximately 30 Grams of carbohydrate:

  • 1 banana
  • 10 pretzels
  • 2 Fig Newtons
  • 1/4 bagel
  • Gels and Sports Chews (Note: Gels and chews have roughly 22 to 29 grams of carbs per serving along with electrolytes. Take these with water to speed delivery of energy into your system.)

Nutrition Post Exercise or Race:

To become a better runner or walker you need to recover from running or walking. For proper recovery, it is recommended that you eat something with both carbohydrates and protein within 45 minutes to an hour after exercise. Failing to do so will most likely effect recovery time and limit the the improvements you can gain from your workout. Failing to recover not only can hinder potential benefits from exercise, but also can lead to injury over time. Read more about the science behind post-exercise recovery in this report by the American Council on Exercise.

I hope this article helps you answer some of your basic sports nutrition questions. At the very least, I hope it gets you thinking about the subject if you have not been already. If this is something you are really fascinated by and think it is the edge you need, I would recommend going to see a Sports Nutritionist to learn more. And remember, we are all different, so it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for your body.

2019 Erika Wells Memorial Scholarship Co-Winner Katie Manion

For four years in a row, Indy Runners has awarded two $500 scholarships to local high school graduates whose lives have been positively impacted by the sport of running. This years’ winners are Jada Coleman from Ben Davis High School and Katie Manion from North Central High School.

Erika Wells, who the scholarship is named after, was a beloved member of Indy Runners who passed away in October 2016. Her dedication to service, personal growth, and social engagement was unparalleled, and she embodied Indy Runners’ belief in the transformative power of running as part of a healthy lifestyle and a way to unify a community. The Erika Wells Scholarship is awarded to high school graduates who exemplify these characteristics.

Katie Manion (North Central High School)

Katie was a member of the North Central Panthers cross country team all four years and a team captain for the 2018-19 season. She also ran track her freshman and sophomore years of high school and competed in the Mini Marathon in 2016. She graduated with a 4.379 grade point average and will be attending Saint Louis University in the fall.

Each scholarship applicant was asked to write and submit an essay on how they came to love running, what the sport of running means to them, or how they believe running will impact their future. We are happy to share Katie’s essay below.

At the age of seven, my parents signed me up for my elementary school’s running club. At the age of eight, I ran my first 5k. By the time I was nine, my neighbor and I were running around our neighborhood together on a daily basis. When I was 11, I completed my first cross country season at Eastwood Middle School, and I loved every minute of it. At this point in my life, running kept me going. It gave me something to look forward to after school, a way to release my negative emotions, and a way to keep my growing body strong.

Right before my 12th birthday, I found myself in the hospital at Riley. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. While sitting in my bed, my doctors rattled off the dangers of running and the precautions that I would need to take in order to be able to continue to practice the sport I love. I was told that running would become incredibly challenging and that I would have to wear monitors while on the move to ensure my safety. I would have to take lengthy breaks between reps and space out my workouts to keep my glucose levels stable. They told me it would be hard to get faster. I made varsity the next year. And the year after that. I did not let myself become defined by my diagnosis and I refused to let it slow me down.

As I went into high school, my body began to slow down as my disease became harder to control. It became evident that maintaining the speed that I had known for so long would be nearly impossible. Freshmen year was the most difficult. Not only was I trying to find my place on the team socially, but I was watching myself fall behind my peers in practice. By the time the first meet rolled around, I was nowhere close to making varsity. I was having to sit out of practice two or three times a week, and it was honestly humiliating. I always felt like people thought I was a slacker or uncommitted, but in reality, I was just sick.

Before this point, I loved running for the competition. I loved collecting my ribbons and hanging up medals in my room. However, I was no longer able to compete at the level that I had in the past. I began to receive less and less medals, and my bulletin board full of ribbons did not become any more impressive. But during this time, I began to love running more and more. It reminded me that I was still strong, and it still does. Though I cannot run everyday, I feel unstoppable when I am able to. It has taught me that I do not need to be the fastest to be the happiest, and that is all that matters.

Remember, if you think you know a deserving young candidate for the 2020 Erika Wells Scholarship, encourage them to apply this upcoming winter/spring!

2019 Erika Wells Memorial Scholarship Co-Winner Jada Coleman

For four years in a row, Indy Runners has awarded two $500 scholarships to local high school graduates whose lives have been positively impacted by the sport of running. This years’ winners are Jada Coleman from Ben Davis High School and Katie Manion from North Central High School.

Erika Wells, who the scholarship is named after, was a beloved member of Indy Runners who passed away in October 2016. Her dedication to service, personal growth, and social engagement was unparalleled, and she embodied Indy Runners’ belief in the transformative power of running as part of a healthy lifestyle and a way to unify a community. The Erika Wells Scholarship is awarded to high school graduates who exemplify these characteristics.

Jada Coleman (Ben Davis High School)

Jada was a four-year varsity Track and Field athlete for the Ben Davis Giants. She ran the 4 x 100 relay, the 4 x 400 relay, and the 300 intermediate hurdles. In addition to Track and Field, she was a four-year varsity basketball player and a three-year member of the volleyball team. She graduated last May with a 3.92 grade point average and will be attending Marshall University this fall.

Each scholarship applicant was asked to write and submit an essay on how they came to love running, what the sport of running means to them, or how they believe running will impact their future. We are happy to share Jada’s essay below.

I fell flat on my face and attempted to run again. I did not get to the finish line in time to secure my place but I did not give up. I was in first place. I clipped a hurdle during the Girls’ Track and Field 2017 Sectional Championship at Ben Davis High School on my last hurdle.

The next season I worked ten times harder than I already had. When I felt like giving up and wanted to stop during workouts, I replayed falling over the hurdle in my head and remembered that I had to redeem myself from the past year. I studied videos of professional hurdlers, worked out during my off-season, and worked on staying on my tippy toes while running. I had a great season and now it was time for Sectionals again. It was such a larger crowd than before and it was almost as if more people had come my junior year just to see me fall again. I told myself I was not going to fail and was more ready than ever. By the end of my race in 300 meter hurdles, I got a personal record and became the 2018 Sectional Champion!

This whole experience was very chaotic, sadly, but it gave me the knowledge of believing in myself even if thousands of people do not. It made me learn how to have self-confidence and gave me a reason to never give up on something no matter how many times I fail. After an experience like that, most weak-minded runners would have quit. I faced my mistakes and improved upon them.

The adrenaline running gives me makes me push myself more and more. I love running so much that even when it felt like I did not belong on the track anymore, one more workout and one more result reassured me of the reasons why I do belong on a track. I have come to realize that it is not always about running perfect races, it is how you finish. My love for running drove me into a mindset that anything is possible when you have faith. I had faith in myself and went out there the next year and surprised everyone watching me run. They did not expect me to get that far knowing how I performed in the previous year.

Love conquers all. When you love something and want it you will do anything in your power to go and get it. I went after what I wanted. I knew that I loved to run and that it was my destiny to be on the track so I was going to show everyone why they should believe in me the way I did. I love the wind in my face, the soreness after a workout, and that my body aches are a symbol that it all will pay off. I love running and I realized that when I failed but kept trying. Loving to run is in my blood.

Make sure to check out our next blog post, as it will feature this year’s other winner: Katie Manion from North Central High School. And if you think you know a deserving young candidate for the 2020 Erika Wells Scholarship, encourage them to apply this upcoming winter/spring!

Monon Trail: 7 Places to Hydrate and/or Evacuate. Broad Ripple Village to 96th St.

It’s time to continue our journey of the best and worst places to hydrate and/or evacuate on the Monon Trail! This time we head north from Broad Ripple Village up to 96th St. My previous blog post on this topic covered Broad Ripple Village to 42nd St. I’m not going to rehash stops previously mentioned, so you can refer back to that post for two spots–The Runners Forum and The Loft–where you can pop in and take care of business in the Village.

Special Note: I was going to include the Annex Club House in the Village but saw on social media that they are closing down that location. So please don’t blast me in the comments when you don’t see it!

Now that we have covered all the pleasantries, let’s get down to where you can handle the unpleasantries while traveling north on the Monon Trail!

Water Fountain Only

Stop 1: The Rock water fountain, located approximately 5-10 feet west of the Monon Trail, about a half mile south of 75th St.

Pro Tips: Do you smell what the Rock is cooking? The way this fountain has been leaking lately chances are you do. If you look closely at the picture above you can see the mini-swamp that is forming on the fountain side. If you do manage to get around all the water without soaking your feet, you will be rewarded with a very low drizzle of water. To drink from this location you practically need to do your best Andy Dwyer impression and put your whole mouth on the nozzle. I can’t remember the last time I attempted to drink here, but I’m fairly certain this fountain is seasonal and is shut down for the winter.

Recommendation: Unless you are on death’s door, skip it. The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Water Fountain Only

Stop 2: The School for the Blind water fountain, located approximately 20-25 feet west of the Monon trail just about a quarter mile north of 75th St.

Pro Tips: This fountain is currently leaking too. Good news though, the water pressure is a lot better than the rock and you can easily get a drink without soaking your feet. This fountain is also seasonal, so it shuts down in the winter.

Recommendation: This is a common place for runners and bikers alike to stop for a break, so make sure you have your gossips ready!

Water Fountain Only

Stop 3: Jordan YMCA water fountain, located approximately 100 feet east of the Monon Trail. When you are getting close to 86th St. look for the Jordan Y sign and start heading that way. You will see the fountain on your left right before you get to the parking lot.

Pro Tips: This is a pretty reliable fountain with good water pressure. On the other side of the fence is a Port A Potty. That fence is locked a majority of the time and I’m guessing not meant for the general population. Do with that information what you will. This fountain is also seasonal and shut down during the winter.

Bathroom & Water Fountain

Stop 4: Kroger located just south of 86th St. approximentely 200-300 feet west of the Monon Trail.

Pro Tips: This isn’t a RRCA runner friendly location or anything, but it can save you in an emergency. I can’t speak for the women’s room, but Guys: be ready for the stall to look like a WWE cage match just took place and for some rando to be camped out in there for long periods of time. Other than that it’s pretty great! It also has the added benefit of being open in the winter, and the water fountain is pretty solid.

Water Cooler Only

Stop 5: Big Lug water cooler, sponsored by the Carmel Marathon, located approximately 10-15 feet east of the Monon Trail just south of 86th St.

Pro Tips: This is the second hydration post in a row where I have mentioned a Carmel Marathon sponsored stop. Kudos to them and their brewery partners for helping us stay refreshed during these hot summer days! If anyone from their marketing team is reading this, I have three words for you: Logo. Urinal. Cakes. Run with that. Big Lug fills the cooler daily. I’m not 100 percent certain, but I’m guessing this is only a seasonal location as well.

Bathroom and Water Cooler

Stop 6: Athletic Annex, located approximately a quarter to a half mile west of the Monon Trail in Nora Plaza Shopping Center on 86th St. The exact address is 1300 East 86th St. Ste 29A. Best way to get there on foot: once you are north of 86th St. run west around Huddles into Nora Plaza and head north in the parking lot by the Whole Foods. You should be able to see it from a distance.

Pro Tips: Admittedly, I have never been in this location. It is relatively new and looks pretty nice from the outside. I’m guessing though, being a running shop, that they would be cool with you stopping in for a pit stop and a drink. Not sure about fresh dance moves though? Try it and let me know in the comments.

Bathroom and Water Fountain

Stop 7: 96th St. Rest Stop, located just north of 96th St. approximately 5 feet on the east side of the Monon Trail.

Pro Tips: When you arrive at this location you are officially in Carmel, IN. That means a couple things. First: Unisex bathrooms open year round! Second: A water fountain that, at first push, will squirt water into your face if you’re not careful. This is actually quite comical when you see an unsuspecting victim of these H2O shenanigans. The water fountain, unlike the restrooms, is shut down during the winter.

Special Tribute: Seen in the picture above is Pirate Cat. I’m not going to get completely into his story, but you should check him out on Facebook or Google him. One of my favorite memories of Pirate Cat is during a pit stop, on a 5 AM run, at this exact location, I saw him come out of nowhere to pounce on a mouse and swallow it whole. The things I find amusing while exercising half asleep could fill another entire blog post. Anyway, enough digression, the day after I took this picture I heard Pirate Cat is sick and not expected to make it much longer. Just wanted to give him a special shoutout and say thank you for bringing me joy on countless runs on the Monon.

Please leave a comment on this article if you know a stop I missed between Broad Ripple Village and 96th St. I promise to head even further north on the Monon in a future post!

Yours in timely hydration and evacuation,

Jesse