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.
Running in Houston offers advantages to reduce the chance of injury. All areas of the city have trails of some sort for soft surface running. There are gyms galore for treadmill running in the summer heat.
All runners are individuals with different genetic makeup, 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.
Keeping a training log can make the analysis process much easier. 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
For more info:
- A guide for buying the proper running shoes
- Stress fracture or shin splints?
- Hot weather running
- Tim Noakes’10 laws of running injuries, law 1