Student Life

The Race Is On: How to Run and Prevent Injury

St. Ambrose’s cross country team starts their race at the CCAC Championships. (Photo courtesy of St. Ambrose Athletics on

Students, faculty, and staff at St. Ambrose are no exception to sustaining injuries while exercising. Production Specialist Jordan Franks is no stranger to running. He has competed in numerous races, ranging from 5Ks to marathons. Notably, he ran the Boston Marathon in under three hours and is looking to set a personal best at the Chicago Marathon later this year. 

There are many reasons why people run, whether it be training for races, working out, or peace and tranquility outdoors. No matter the purpose, those who run tend to get injured quite frequently. It makes one question: is it better to run in colder temperatures or warmer ones?

“Shape” is a website that states that there are positives to running in the cold, but people tend to find a better way of running outdoors in the nicer weather. It makes sense too, with nicer weather allowing people to run at almost any time of the day.

Though one might not realize it, there are positives to running both in the cold and the warm. It could be argued that running in the cold would be best inside, but that is not always the case.

According to Yale Medicine, about half of people who regularly run get hurt. With those getting injured, it may force people to feel nervous about running. There is no reason to fear though, as people just need to take the same, precautionary steps.

As spring starts and the weather gets nicer, people around the country start running more frequently. Due to this, injuries should be on the mind. They can stem from different factors, such as falling or taking a “bad step” on the ground. There is a widespread way people get hurt from running, however: runners push their bodies past their limits. 

Franks says, “The most common way runners get injured is through overtraining. That can mean taking on too much mileage or just running too hard, too often.” He continues, “Because I run almost every day and think of all my mileage on a weekly basis, my philosophy is to take the easy days easy and then really put in the work on the day of a workout or long run.”

Most importantly, runners of any caliber need to listen to their bodies. That thought process is exactly what SAU junior, Zack Nemecheck implemented. “I really started running just as a way to work out and lose weight. It was normally just basic runs, nothing too long or too serious, but my leg would typically start hurting while I ran outside and on a treadmill,” said Nemecheck. Nemecheck says he now will use a stationary bike instead of running to prevent leg pain.

One way to attempt and prevent injuries is warm-up stretching. Erin Heger of Business Insider says, “Stretch for five to 10 minutes before running, focusing on dynamic stretches that get your blood pumping and raise your body temperature to warm up your muscles.” It is also smart to stretch after a run, providing the box some relaxation. 

SAU junior criminal justice major, Jack Eadie, says he never even thought about the idea of sustaining an injury while running. During his rare workouts, stretching was not on his mind. According to Eadie, “Now, I’m realizing that it isn’t my smartest choice.” 

Chengming Hu, an Assistant Professor of Sports Management at SAU, also runs frequently, but in a different way. Outside of being a professor, Dr. Hu is an official for some of the high school basketball games in and around the Quad Cities.

“I usually work five nights per week, so my legs are tired. I’ll use a foam roller to help me release the tension of the muscle and I stretch a lot,” said Dr. Hu. He also will wear knee braces and works out with a leg press to enhance his running performance.

According to Franks, it’s not the best to just take a day off. Instead, “Cross-train by riding on a stationary bike or swim some laps in a pool,” Franks said. In addition, he shares that there are great “couch to 5k” plans tailored to any type of runner. They also stress recovery days for people.

If one plans to run a race, how should he/she prepare? According to Franks, “Registrations for races will tell you about the course.” If the course is flat, run on flat ground. If the course has lots of hills, make sure that hills are in the training. The ultimate goal for hills: don’t be tired at the top of the hills! Train the body to have some energy left in the tank.

Jordan Franks running the Boston Marathon. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Franks)

Finally, know the importance and cautions of using a coach or trainer on runs. Franks establishes, “Some have a very ‘less is more’ mindset and some push a very heavy-mileage ‘grindset.’ I can see both sides, having had multiple coaches through high school and college. Good coaching and training should be tailored to you because everyone is different.”

Races in the Quad Cities are gaining traction. Some of the local upcoming races include the “Run for Veterans” in Blue Grass, the “Cinco De Mayo” race in Davenport, and the “Bix 7” in Davenport. The most well-known race, the “TBK Quad Cities Marathon,” will be in September. The Cornbelt Running Club is a great source to find races, and includes a full list of this year’s races.

Whether a newcomer to running or a seasoned professional, injuries can haunt people. It doesn’t matter the distance, the speed, or the pace, taking the correct steps and listening to the body is the best way to make running a better experience as the weather gets warmer.