The Casual Runner

Training Tips: Avoiding Injury

Training for a race is easy, right? Well, the running itself is not easy, but the concept is, right?

You just go out and run. Then the next day you run a little farther. Then you rest. Repeat for several weeks. Taper, Then run on race day.

If only it were that simple.


Casual Running is a balance. We run for the enjoyment of the endeavor itself, but we also want to make sure that we are prepared for the challenges we undertake (whether they be 5ks, 10ks, halfs, marathons, or multi-race challenges), and maybe even improve on our performance. But focusing too much on the training could actually, for many Casual Runners, reduce their enjoyment of running.

So, you are probably asking right about now, what are we to do? Well, if I were a training expert, my race times would be far better than they are. So, knowing my own limitations, let’s call in someone who is actually qualified to speak with some authority on the subject, shall we?

As you know, we recently started partnering with Cigna, who has been sharing some great information and insight to help us further our dialogue with all of the Casual Runners out there. Cigna hosted a meetup at the 2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend where we discussed the benefits of running togetherAt that meetup a great discussion began about making sure that all runners are treated the same on race day so that no runner gets left out.


Building on that, Cigna knows that we Casual Runners make mistakes in our training programs, so they helped us out by lending us the expertise of Mr. Antonio Williams, M.S., NASM, P.E.S, who is a Case Management Specialist and Health Educator. The first warning Mr. Williams gives is that “A mistake some runners make is not including strength training in their training program.”

Um, yeah…about that. I have been meaning to get around to strength training, but…Truthfully, yes, I know this. But, going with the “do as I say, not as I do” mantra, even though I have been running for several years now, I just never seem to get around to adding regular strength training into my routine. I am either too busy or too focused on logging my miles. But this is the very trap that Mr. Williams warns against: “Running provides more muscular endurance than muscular strength. So you need strength training for your upper, as well as lower body, to prevent injury.”

Ok, now I am listening. What else do I need to know?

“Strength training two or three days a week will help your body absorb the constant pounding of the pavement. Over time, your muscles won’t tire as quickly. You’ll be able to run further, faster and for longer durations. This takes some time, so give this routine a couple of weeks to see a difference.

Stretching before and after your workouts also will help keep your body balanced. As a runner, it’s important to keep your muscles as flexible as possible. You want to prevent muscles from compensating to the point where you alter your running form. This could lead to injuries.”


If you made it this far, I am sure you are like me and are thinking, I knew a lot of this stuff, I just have a problem actually doing it, actually working it into my training routine. Fortunately, Mr. Williams has us covered. He provided the following stretches that may help prevent injuries:

Calf stretch

Put both hands against a wall with arms extended. Lean with one leg bent forward and the other leg extended back. Keep your knee straight and foot positioned forward. Push rear heel to floor (toe pointed straight ahead) and move hips slightly forward. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite leg.

Back stretch

Kneel in front of a chair or stable surface. Place one hand on the surface and slowly lower chest toward the ground. Feel the stretch in your upper shoulder area around your armpit. Do not arch your lower back, and tighten your core as you lower your chest. Repeat on opposite side.


Quad stretch

Kneel with one knee on a padded mat and your other foot positioned forward. Place back foot onto a stable surface like a bench. Slowly drive hip forward and squeeze glute on the same side as the quad being stretched. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite side.

Groin stretch

Stand next to a stable, knee-high surface. Place your foot on the surface and slowly reach your hand toward your feet. Feel the stretch in the groin area of your leg on the surface. Keep both toes straight ahead, as feet may have a tendency to point outward. Do not shift hips toward leg on the surface. Repeat on opposite leg.

There you go. We hope you find this information helpful as you continue on your Casual Running journey. Best of luck to you and stay safe and healthy as you get out and log those miles!


looking to share your love of running with a new generation of Casual Runners? looking to get out & get started on your own running adventure?
Check out our great FIRST MILE story collection & our GETTING STARTED series as a way to help new runners discover their own potential.


The information in this article was provided by Cigna and prepared by Mr. Antonio Williams, M.S., NASM, P.E.S, Cigna Health Educator and Case Management Specialist. Antonio is an accomplished health coach who specializes in exercise science to help his clients achieve their personal health and wellness goals. The information contained in this article is intended to be general health information and not medical advice or services. You should consult your doctor for medical advice or services, including seeking advice before undertaking a new diet or exercise program.

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!