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Tim Noakes’ 10 Laws of Running Injuries, Law 3

Each Injury Indicates a Breakdown

© 2013 ; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

Brooks, Adidas, and New Balance Running Shoes; photo courtesy Kelly Smith

Tim Noakes’ Law 1 was “injuries are not an act of God.” Law 3 is “each injury indicates a breakdown” and as Noakes points out, it’s a corollary of law 1. All runners are potential injuries waiting to happen, but when and where it happens is an individual consideration.

Why? Because all runners are individuals with different genetic makeups, biomechanics, lifestyle habits, and training methods. The point of this law is to analyze all these factors once an injury does happen. Once that’s done, changes can be made and the chance of future injuries may be minimized.

Keep a Training Log

Keeping a training log can make the analysis process much easier when you note down not only mileage and type of workout, but also those pesky little aches and pains that can signal the onslaught of a potential injury.

Don’t have a training log? You have many options, from a pencil and paper to an expensive on-line application. Personally, I like this free downloadable training log.

Noakes identifies 3 factors that are of particular importance to note, other than the obvious things like elevated mileage, an excessively crowded racing calendar, etc:

  1. Training surfaces. The best strategy is to aim to train on softer surfaces. Trail running, gravel surfaces, and flat asphalt are good choices. Poorer choices are concrete streets (too hard) and road shoulders (the typical camber is great for rain run-off but it stinks for stress on the joints).

    Athletic tracks are forgiving, but continuously running around a curve in the same direction can cause problems.

  2. Training shoes. The correct type of running shoes should be matched to individual biomechanics. It’s best to pick a model that works and stick with it. Also, be careful breaking in a new pair; elevate the mileage gradually.

    Noakes notes studies that show that runners who use more than one pair of shoes or favor the more expensive training shoes tend to have more injuries.

  3. Training methods. This one is obvious to runners who’ve been around the block a few times. Obviously the chance of injury goes up with mileage (overuse).
    Also, rapid increases in mileage can be dangerous. Always follow the 10% rule or something less extreme. And as mentioned above, too much racing can put runners at risk.

The bottom line is to listen to your body and maintain a running log with the above 3 factors noted at a minimum. Links to other laws are listed below. Remaining laws will be added shortly!

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Check back; we will be posting the other laws soon! In the meantime, here are the ones we have posted:

  1. Tim Noakes’ Ten Laws of Running Injuries; Law One
  2. Tim Noakes’ Ten Laws of Running Injuries; Law Two
  3. Tim Noakes’ Ten Laws of Running Injuries; Law Three
  4. Tim Noakes’ Ten Laws of Running Injuries; Law Four

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  1. Noakes, Tim, MD The Lore of Running, 4th Ed. Cape Town, South Africa: Human Kinetics; 2003

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