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You’re a fairly new runner and you’ve conquered those first few runs, seen an improvement in your fitness and you’re feeling motivated. It’s tempting to set yourself a new goal now and start training for your first race. It’s a great way to boost motivation.


The key is to set long-term goals and not try to cram in too much training at once. Setting goals now for 2017 may seem like a longterm approach, but it’s a key way to prevent injuries. “The longer you can give your body to adapt and strengthen to the demands of running, the better,” says physiotherapist Mark Buckingham from Witty Pask & Buckingham ( “While it is the muscles that are sore in the first few weeks, it is actually the bones and tendons which take much longer to adapt. It takes a period of six to nine months (of running) in bone, six months in tendon and three to four months in muscle.”

Even if you feel physically strong, you still need to factor in the impact. During running, a force of three to four times your body weight is absorbed by the knees. Your muscles, bones and tendons need time to adapt to this impact. “If you increase your training rapidly without consideration to the lack of conditioning in these structures, then you are much more likely to overload, strain and damage them,” adds Buckingham. “So from a point of no training, you need to build up over at least six months to reduce injury risk. For a February or March half-marathon, ideally you should start training in August or September. If you’ve already been doing a bit of running, or your body is used to doing an impact sport, then you might be able to drop this to four months.”

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About Women’s Running

Re-start your running with the new issue of Women's Running, out now! We'll show you seven ways to break out of a running rut and how to come to terms with a new way of running when your times are on the decline. We've got expert advice on the steps you need to take now if you're planning for a spring PB next year. Plus, find out how running can help you be more mindful; be inspired by three women who celebrated big birthdays through amazing run events; and find out how to run if you have asthma. Giving your nutrition a re-think? Read a dietician's no-nonsense advice for fuelling your endurance sessions and read our special report on carb cycling for runners. You'll find all this plus the best kit reviews for road and trail, workouts for runners, and much more!