The 10 Commandments of Injury Prevention
by Vic Brown
A sound training routine encompasses a variety of methods for
enduring and adapting to intense training. Following these 10
injury-prevention commandments of endurance training will help keep you
healthy and fit and put you in position to have your most successful
1. REST AND RECOVER.
Include rest days into your training plan by taking a complete break
from training both physically and mentally. Get off your feet, rest your
mind, rest your body for the day. I recommend training no more than two
weeks consecutively without resting. Novice and/or masters athletes may
require “off” days more frequently. Recovery weeks, typically less
hours spent exercising or less miles trained, should be included every
third to fifth week. Recovery days, easy non-intense training, should
follow hard training days.
2. INCORPORATE RECOVERY TECHNIQUES.
There are a number of ways to incorporate recovery into your routine.
Biofoam rollers and massage sticks help sore, achy or stiff muscles
recover from exercise. Watching movies, spending time with family,
reading, listening to music or socializing with friends can all be
effective relaxation strategies that allow you to disassociate from
physical exercise and reduce tension while developing positive mood
states of happiness and calmness.
Essential for physiological growth and repair, routinely physically
active individuals are encouraged to aspire for 8 to 9.5 hours of sleep
each night. Cardiovascular performance can be compromised by up to 20
percent with sleep deprivation while reducing reaction time, the ability
to process information and emotional stability. Naps are always icing
on the cake.
4. CONSUME POST-EXERCISE FUEL.
The goal of post-exercise nutrition is to restore muscle and liver
glycogen stores, improve hydration and repair muscle tissue. You should
eat 15 to 30 minutes after exercise, preferably as soon as possible,
when the muscles are most receptive to fuel. Muscle replenishment and
tissue repair can be accelerated if you combine carbohydrates and
protein together in a ratio of 4 to 1.
Weigh yourself before and after exhaustive exercise to determine how
much water you lost. Stay hydrated by consuming at least 24 ounces per
pound of body weight lost within six hours after exercise. Performance
begins to decrease after only a two percent loss in body water. Include
electrolytes to eliminate the risk of hyponatremia if engaging in
activity for more than four hours.
5. WARM-UP AND COOL DOWN.
A proper warm-up is a key component to preparing the body for the
demands of any training session or competition. Developing a pre-race
warm-up is unique to each individual. Performing a warm-up will elevate
heart rate, VO2, and increase blood flow to the connective tissue and
local muscles to be trained. This in turn will raise muscle temperature
and help decrease joint and muscle stiffness, therefore improving range
of motion. Warm-up periods of five to 15 minutes are recommended with
the effects lasting up to 45 minutes. After 45 minutes of inactivity,
re-warming may be needed. On the other side of the coin, the recovery
process and preparation for the next day’s training begins with a proper
cool down. Low-intensity aerobic exercise, such as aquatic-based
training, light jogging or cycling, are effective cool down activities
for clearing lactic acid and lessening the severity of muscle soreness.
6. INTEGRATE STRENGTH TRAINING.
Strength training is essential for preparing the body for the rigors of
training and racing. It facilitates bone health and enhances injury
resistance, including factors that contribute to overuse injuries. It
can help bridge the metabolic power gap between swimming, biking and
running by boosting lactate tolerance, as well as assist with delaying
7. USE PROPER EQUIPMENT.
Correct equipment minimizes unwanted stress. A bike should fit you, not
you fit the bike. Cycling posture and position is individualistic for
maximizing aerodynamics, power, efficiency and comfort while minimizing
injury potential and discomfort. Running shoes should fit your gait
pattern. The road will wear your shoes faster than running on trails.
How to know if it’s time for a new pair? New shoes may be in order if
the grooves on the outsoles are worn smooth, or the upper appears
stretched causing the foot to slide off the midsole. Note that midsole
foam may take up to 24 hours to recover from a run, so training with a
second pair of running shoes may provide more protection for your body.
8. FOLLOW THE 10 PERCENT RULE.
Increase annual training hours, or training volume, by ten percent or
less. For example, if you ran 20 miles this week, your total mileage
next week should not exceed 22 miles. If you are training according to
time, for example, and your triathlon program called for 15 hours of
training this week, it’s recommended training hours not exceed 16.5
hours the next week.
9. INTERVAL TRAIN.
Proper interval training can improve VO2 and anaerobic threshold.
Intervals allow your body to adapt to and eventually race at greater
10. KNOW THAT MORE IS ALWAYS BETTER.
Recovery allows your body to adapt to training loads. Conditioning
should be specific to the event you are training for. Training volume
can be defined as the combinations of how often you work out (frequency)
and how long you train (duration). Training volume is going to look
different for an Ironman triathlete versus a 5K runner.
Vic Brown is an associate strength and conditioning coach at Boston
University and assistant coach for Boston Performance Coaching, a
triathlon and endurance athlete coaching service. He can be reached at