Running with injury: A study of UK novice and recreational runners and factors associated with running related injury

J Sci Med Sport. 2018 Dec;21(12):1221-1225. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.05.021. Epub 2018 May 24.


Objectives: To investigate the incidence and type of running related injuries in novice and recreational UK runners, and identify factors associated with injury.

Design: Retrospective cross-sectional study.

Methods: Novice and recreational runners were recruited through UK parkrun to complete a web-based survey. 1145 respondents reported information on demographics, personal characteristics, and running training characteristics (training goal, novice runners' training plans, frequency of running, running experience, running terrain). Current and previous injuries were self-reported and questions from the Oslo Sports Trauma Centre Questionnaire for overuse injury were completed. Chi-squared tests and binomial logistic regression were performed.

Results: 570 runners had a current injury and 86% were continuing to run despite their injury causing pain, directly affecting their performance and causing a reduction of running volume. In the first year of running, runners using a self-devised training programme were more likely to be injured compared with using a structured programme such as Couch to 5K. Running experience of over 2 years was protective (OR 0.578-0.65). Males were 1.45 times more likely to be injured. Other factors associated with current injury were wearing orthotics (OR 1.88), and lack of previous injuries in the past 12 months (OR 1.44).

Conclusions: More experienced runners have a lower rate of injury. A novice runner should use a recognised structured training programme. These results suggest that graduated loading is important for novice runners, and that load modification may be important whilst recovering from an injury, however full recovery from previous injury may prevent future injury.

Keywords: Couch to 5K; Injury prevention; Loading; Overuse; Risk factors; Running experience.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Performance
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Running / injuries*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom