Is running volume or intensity more to blame for injury?


Running injuries remain a common problem for the vast majority of runners.  Many of these athletes report a loss of training days or competition due to a current or previous injury.  Contributing factors include muscle weakness, decreased mobility, and training errors.  Progressing training volumes (frequency, intensity, duration, terrain) too quickly prevent the tissues from properly adapting to the stresses of exercise.  A recent study examined if training intensity or training volume is more to blame for running related injuries.

A randomized controlled trial in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy was conducted to determine the impact of running intensity and running volume progression on future injury rates (Ramskov et al. 2018).  447 runners were randomized to one of two 16 week training programs after a combined 8 week preconditioning program.  The first group focused on intensity with runners training at > 88% of their VO2max.  The second group focused on running volume with progressive increases in training volume each week.   The authors reported 80 runners sustained an injury which kept them from completing the prescribed training sessions, but the authors found no difference in injury risk between the two groups.