As a fellow runner, I want you to achieve your goals, enjoy running, and remain injury free. As a running coach, I want all of the same things for you, but I have to admit that I get a little tired of seeing the same training mistakes over and over that are keeping you from setting that PR, improving and enjoying your races, or are causing you to keep getting injured.
Now, if you are perfectly happy with your training program and achieving the results that you want, please feel free to ignore my advice. Or I would also love if you would tell me why I’m wrong in the comments. I chose these training mistakes because they are the ones I see fellow runners making, then wonder why they missed their chance to qualify for Boston, had a horrible race, or keep getting injured over and over.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to set a PR and you’re happy just running without any goals other than having a great time, that’s is awesome. Keep doing what you’re doing because you are already achieving what you want.
But, if you do want to set a new personal best, qualify for Boston, or simply have a great race, these tips can help.
Stop Making These Training Mistakes
Here are some of the most common training mistakes that I see way too often. While I am referring mostly to marathon training, these same mistakes may be keeping you from reaching your goals at any distance.
Not Setting a Target Race
A good training plan is scientific. It is designed to take you through different phases of training at certain times with the goal of peaking at the right time. You should pick a target race and revolve your training around it.
Running a 5k the Day Before Your Target Race
So, say you want to qualify for Boston or set a new PR in your Sunday marathon. So why on earth would you race a 5k the day before?
I realize that many marathons these days are full on events with 5ks, 10ks, and more all crammed into one weekend. That can be a fun way to challenge yourself.
My beef is with making the training mistake of racing one of those shorter races the day before your target race. Why would you want to empty your tank with only hours to recover?
Now, many people enjoy a shake out run the day before a race, and if that works for you, enter that 5k but do it as a fun run. Or even better, skip it, stay off your feet the day before, and hydrate and fuel yourself in preparation for your big event.
Running Too Much
In my opinion, most recreational runners, even ones who are quite fast and have set high targets for their running, do not need to run more than 60-80 miles a week. And even that may be too high for some runners. Plus, that high mileage should be for only a few weeks leading up to your taper and should include recovery, rest, and a good fueling and hydration plan.
While high training volume is definitely an important factor in better race performance, it should be added gradually and much of it should be performed at an easy pace. High mileage training will help your body adapt and become more efficient at utilizing oxygen, glycogen, make it easier to run farther at a faster pace come race day.
However, if you keep getting injured, start feeling burned out, or feeling other symptoms of overtraining, take a look at your running volume and think about clicking it back a bit, adding extra recovery and rest, or taking a look at your refueling and rehydrating protocols.
Running too Fast
One of the training mistakes that many runners make is running too fast. While speedwork has its place, most of your runs should be at an easy, comfortable pace. That may be one to two minutes slower than your goal marathon pace.
Your training plan will probably include one to three days of higher intensity running like tempo runs, race pace runs, or intervals. The rest of your training should be completed at an easy pace.
Not Resting or Recovering
You may be calling them recovery runs, but if they are more than a few miles long or if you’re running them too fast, you are not really recovering.
Recovery runs are generally done the day after a hard run, or during the recovery phase after a target race. Some runners choose to take complete rest after a hard workout and that is fine. If you choose to do a recovery run, keep it short, about three to six miles, and pretty slow.
Rest is also essential during your training. Depending on your experience and other factors (age, injury tolerance, race distance) taking one or two days of rest will benefit most runners. Cross training can be acceptable, but make sure that you are getting enough rest.
Remember that strength happens when you rest and recover. Hard training breaks you down, rest is when your muscles, organs, and even brain repair stronger than before.
Racing all the Time
Many runners love to race. If they could they’d compete every weekend. And that’s wonderful. If that’s what you love to do, you can ignore this entire post.
If you’ve read this far though it is probably because you have more goals than just racing. And I’m sorry, if you want to get that PR or BQ, you are going to need to take a look at your goals and your plan, and set your eyes on the prize.
Most training plans include a race or two, with specific instructions about the pace you should aim for. More races than that though and you’re risking your training.
Running without a Plan
Finally, all of these tips come down to having a training plan. Your plan will set the guidelines for your distance and your pace. It will make sure that you recover when you need to and get the rest that your body needs to get stronger.
You can find free plans on the internet, but ideally find a coach that can create a plan specifically for you. Your coach can also help with inspiration, motivation, injury prevention, and more. Prices will vary according to your needs, but if you’re setting your sights on a shiny new personal record it is probably well worth it.
Have you made any of these training mistakes? Do you disagree with any of them? I hope you’ll discuss with me in the comments.
Where is the Body First Video?
Don’t worry, I have the next Body First Video in the series ready to go. I feel, though, that I’m already wordy enough on Wednesdays, so I’m moving it to Friday! I hope you’ll check back. We’re rolling out the gluteus medius!
Here are the other Body First Videos:
Self Myofascial Release for Happy Feet
Self Myofascial Release for the Lower Legs
Self Myofascial Release for the Upper Back
Self Myofascial Release for the Hip Flexors
Self Myofascial Release for the Piriformis
And Now It’s Time for the Running Coaches’ Corner!
My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!
Meatless Monday with Sarah and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie and Dixya
Tuesdays on the Run with Marcia, Erika, and Patty
Inspire Me Monday with Janice
Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie, Jen, and Nicole
The Plant-Based Potluck Party with Deborah
The Running Coaches’ Corner with Rachel, Suz, Lora Marie, and Me!
Friday 5 2.0 with Rachel and Lacey and Meranda