Half-Marathon Tip #11: Know When to Quit

Whether it's your first race or your 50th, this expert advice will help get you across the finish line faster, happier and healthier. Check back weekly between now and race day (April 3, 2011!) for a new installment.

MORE.com Health Editors
woman taking a break from running image
Photograph: Willie B. Thomas

Time it Right

Knowing when to stop your daily run might help to reduce the risk of getting overuse injuries, reports a new Indiana University study. When researchers analyzed the biomechanics of 20 healthy runners, they found that their form started to deteriorate when the runners reached either 85 percent of their maximum heart rate or a rating of perceived exertion of 17 (out of 20), both of which are markers of exertion at the end of a typical run. According to the study, ankle eversion increased, as did internal rotation of the lower leg, knee and hip to a lesser extent. “If you continue to run beyond normal exertion, it becomes more difficult to control motion at these joints,” says study author Tracy Dierks, PhD, assistant professor of physical therapy at Indiana University. The muscles that control these movements are all relatively smaller and the increased motion makes it harder for them, as well as the tendons and ligaments, to handle the stresses and strains related to running.” To stay pain free, talk to your doctor about ways to strengthen the muscles that support your hips, knees and ankles and consider ending your run when you hit 85 percent of your heart rate or you feel like you’re at level 17 in terms of exertion.

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First Published February 1, 2011

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