There are many different schools of thought in existence regarding best practices in endurance running, but no one way has been proven to be the most effective. Instead of following the latest trends, you should be paying close attention to your own body and its needs. When you run in a way that places added stress on your body, you run the risk of serious injury, from runner’s knee to shin splints, plantar fasciitis and stress fractures. It’s important to take precautions against these common problems that can waylay your race plans or worse.

Your long distance running technique may differ from those around you, but as long as you’re running without pain, you’re not doing it wrong. That said, though, there are a few agreed-upon methods from which to start and adapt to your own needs.

1. Watch your stride length. You may feel the desire to lengthen your stride to gain speed, but resist this temptation. Instead, take faster short strides so that your foot isn’t reaching in front of you.

2. Similarly, don’t overextend. Rather, keep your foot in line with your knee.

3. Don’t overpronate. Overpronation occurs when the arch of the foot collapses and rolls inward. This isn’t something you can control on your own, so make sure you have the right support in your long distance running shoes or with an added insole.

4. Remember to pay attention to your upper body as well as your legs. Use your core for strength, keep elbows bent and relax your hands.

Practicing good long distance running form is certainly important, but some of the best things you can do to prevent injuries happen separately from the big race. For example, stick to your training schedule. If you try to do too much too fast, you’re asking for stress fractures or other problems. Build up your endurance gradually, but also be sure to plan for lighter training days to give your body a break. After training and races, don’t skip the cool-down either. Keep your muscles limber with a few minutes of easy stretches.

Finally, keep an eye on your equipment. Make sure your shoes, any insoles you use and your clothes are in good condition and replace items as they become worn. Check out our guide to make sure you have all the essentials.