Come back for more soon...but see some bird's-eye view considerations below.
Exhaust the big picture questions before worrying about things like your shoe choice, the running surface or your form/technique. Those might matter, but the reality is training errors or stress/inadequate recovery are better starting points. Have you recently increased mileage? Did you implement more intensity than usual? Has work/family impacted your sleep? Are you blindly following a generic training plan over listening to what your body is telling you? Examining the answers to questions like these is a better place to start:
What distance (5K, marathon, etc.) is appropriate for you depends on your goals. Is it weight loss? Performance? Simply completing the race? There’s no right answer, but asking yourself “where am I now” before “what is my goal” allows you to determine what’s achievable in a given time. Make no mistake, health and performance take effort. Chances are the time frame you’re looking at to achieve a given goal is a lot longer than you anticipate. Chasing fads and hacks simply delays execution and down prioritizes the most important aspect of a plan, consistency.
Long Term Goals vs. Short Term Gains
Chances are the decisions that benefit you most a month from now aren’t the ones that will benefit you the most a year from now. You wouldn’t ignore household chores in favor of watching netflix and expect your spouse to be thrilled with your contributions a year from now, would you? Health and performance is no different, the heart pounding training sessions or the “no pain no gain” mantra might burn more calories. What they don’t do, in isolation, is address long term aerobic development and metabolic changes that are required to support increasing training volumes and intensities. There’s a place for working hard, but it has to fit into what you want to do in tomorrow’s session. What you can tolerate for a week or a month probably isn’t sustainable for the long-haul. It’s a lot easier to scale up than scale back, so again, prioritize consistency.
The presence of strength training in a program is not a predictor of future injury, but it can still serve a vital role for many of us. We’re able to better see the benefit when we reframe the intent. Preserving muscle mass, preparing our body to handle the demands of running and simply developing better body awareness are much better outlooks for integrating strength work. Framing it in these ways is much more productive than looking at strength training as a binary decision “yes or no”. How that might look in a training plan will vary depending on where you’re at in your running journey.