Running Injuries Caused By The Terrible Toos

As the days get longer and warmer, many head outdoors for workouts.  But many people wonder why, after starting an outdoor jogging routine, they develop shin splints or knee pain shortly after.

Running’s “Terrible Toos” are often the leading culprit and cause of most running injuries.

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Too much

Too soon

Too hard

Too fast

Too long

It’s easy to imagine how this can happen.  You wake up and decide today is the day you’re going to start your new training program.  You lace up your Nikes and head out the door.  Your ego dictates that a run-walk is for wimps and if you’re gonna go out for just 10 minutes, why even go at all?  So 30-40 minutes later, you’re finished and feeling proud.  Tomorrow you do the same.  Maybe you follow this program a few more times.  And then a week or two later, you start to experience those nagging aches and pains common to many new runners.  You decide the pain is not worth it and your short-lived running career is over.

Consider this:

With each running stride, your body is forced to absorb impact forces as great as 3x your body weight.  So if you weigh 150 pounds, imagine 450 pounds of force pounding through your body with each foot strike. You can imagine that over the course of a four-mile run, the amount of force the body absorbs is tremendous.  Even if you’ve been taking fitness classes or using indoor equipment all winter, pounding the pavement is different.  If you’re fit, your heart would be able to handle the effort involved with running, but your bones, ligaments and tendons are still not sufficiently prepared for the impact of running.  Due to the nature of the sport, specific imbalances and areas of weakness can result.  For these reasons…

……proper progression is critical if you expect to continue running on a long-term basis.

A program should gradually introduce running into your exercise routine:

Start with short bursts of running (30-60 seconds is ideal) interspersed with walking breaks.  It’ll certainly take some weeks before you’re marathon-ready, but this time allows your body to adapt and increases your chances of being able to continue running for the long-term.

Here’s a sample program to try:

Week 1 (Run 1 min. Walk 4 min)  x 6
Week 2 (Run 2 min. Walk 3 min)  x 6
Week 3 (Run 3 min. Walk 2 min) x 6
Week 4 (Run 4 min. Walk 1 min)  x 6
Week 5 (Run 5 min. Walk 1 min) x 5
Week 6 (Run 6 min. Walk 1 min) x 5
Week 7 (Run 7 min. Walk 1 min)  x 4
Week 8 (Run 8 min. Walk 1 min) x 4
Week 9 (Run 9 min. Walk 1 min) x 4
Week 10 (Run 10 min. Walk 1 min) x 4

At this point, you can attempt continuous running (Start with 15 minutes and increase 5-10% every 1-2 weeks) or continue with the Run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute approach as you increase your mileage.  If you start to experience any aches and pains, back off on your volume and/or return to a run/walk approach.

Here are a few additional tips to keep you running strong and injury-free:

  • Try not to run 2 days in a row if possible.  And definitely avoid 3 consecutive runs.
  • Allow for one full recovery day per week.
  • Take time to do a 6 to 10 minute walking-only warmup and cool down
  • Stretch all your running muscles for at least 30 seconds after each run
  • Purchase a good pair of running shoes after consulting an expert at a sport footwear specialist store
  • Cross train – avoid becoming just a runner.  I’d rather see an exerciser run 3x/week and compliment their program with swimming, cycling, weight training and fitness classes rather than run 6x/week.  Cross training will maintain a greater balance to your program and your body and keep your program exciting.
  • If possible, run on packed, level dirt, trails, or grass, which are a lot easier on your body.  If running through the city, paved roads (asphalt) are easier on your legs than concrete sidewalks (cement).  Just watch for traffic.

May all your miles be filled with smiles and may the wind always be at your back!


We are hosting a Running Clinic every Wednesday night at 5:30pm starting May 8th.  The group approach will get you into awesome shape! 

We are also starting our Spring Makeover Challenge soon.  It’s a fun and friendly competition to help inspire you to take the actions necessary to lose weight and get in great shape for summer. Sometimes losing a few pounds, makes running so much easier! Sign up now before teams fill up!

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 25 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details. 

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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