Another stress fracture victim, Lisa. It sucks. Been there. I took off 10 weeks versus the doctor recommended 12 weeks. That was very early in my running years, 1996. Probably could have come back a little earlier. I've figured out over the years that most doctors are very conservative on the rest/recovery time frame. Everyone heals differently, plus the body adapts pretty well. I know you can run with a broken toe, (CMM in 2007), but I bet a doctor wouldn't suggest it or even condone it.
Causes. Chronic or traumatic. The only ones you can really actively work to avoid would be chronic injuries, usually a result of overuse. Everyone has heard what not to do; don't ramp up your mileage to quickly, don't do hard workouts back to back, don't push hard when you should be recovering, don't run in worn out shoes, don't run through pain and on and on. Traumatic injuries on the other hand are unavoidable for the most part. Those happen as the result of another force, such as stepping in a hole, tripping on the sidewalk or curb. Unfortunately for a clutz like me, these are a lot of my injuries. Running strictly on a nice smooth surface would minimize the risk, but jeez, I stepped in a hole at a mile and a half into the CMM and broke my 5th metatarsal and severely sprained my ankle. Nothing is certain.
Shoes. Even if you are a cheapskate like me and buy your shoes online, go to the local running store every once and awhile to get fitted. Wearing the proper shoe for your running style is probably one of the most important things you need to do. Shoes typically last for around 300 miles. I get considerably more mileage. The indicator to me that it's time to replace the shoes is when my shins start getting sore.
Surfaces. Soft surfaces give your feet and legs a break from the pounding of the pavement. Part of my plan to stay injury free is to run twice a week on the golf course. Trails are another good option. The worst surface to run on is concrete or sidewalks. I noticed several years ago one of the ultra runners would always run on the dirt/gravel/grass that was beside the surface we were running whether it was concrete or asphalt. Thought is was strange at the time, but find myself doing it as well on some of my long runs.
Stretching/Strengthening. Some will say you shouldn't stretch, do what works for you. I stretch before and after running. Most of my injuries are a result of tight calves. It's the result of my running style, up on my toes. Some of the stretches that work for me are the wall lean, toe raises and walking on my heels. Other stretches I do are targeted at other muscle groups and are almost identical to some of the yoga poses. If me shins are starting to get sore I do some of the exercises physical therapist showed me for either the calf strain or stress fracture. Can't remember which, but they strengthen the outside shin muscles which become weak because of the calves.
Injuries. Plantar Fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, calf strain, stress fracture, broken bones, ankle sprains. I'll expand on these when we get back from camping this weekend.
10.2 easy miles this morning. The .2 is because I'm a geek and I'm tired of seeing that .8 on my log. Should have run on the golf course but 10 miles is to far for that. Did the house to Stones River Battlefield loop. Very warm, didn't need to wear my headlamp, my bare white chest with heart rate strap reflects more light than the headlamp anyway. Started nice and slow but started picking up the pace on the way back home. Had to slow down the last 3 miles, I was clipping along at marathon pace feeling really good. That's one of the things that seems to lead to injury for me, picking it up and running hard when I should be recovering.