10 common running mistakes
November 10, 2008
by Jennifer Gill
Sometimes we hit a wall in our running. And I'm not
about the "Wall" you always hear about when you're training for a long
distance race and you deplete your energy stores. No, this is
a much bigger wall. This is when you're running is just not
feeling right, things are just not working for you and you're at a
loss. Maybe you're injured. Maybe you've lost your
motivation. When you get to that point, it's important to
take some time to check in with yourself to see if you've been making
some of these common running mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not listening to advice. It may be hard to believe, but we
don't know everything. When it comes to running, especially
training for something, we need to rely on outside sources of
information and expertise to help us. Simply finding a
training plan online and trying to follow it often isn't enough to get
you to the starting line. Asking for help when you need it is your best
bet to have the race you've been hoping for.
Mistake #2: Taking that advice too far. The flip side of
asking for help is taking it too literally. What works for
one runner doesn't always work for another runner. Going back to that
online training plan, that may not be the appropriate plan for your
fitness or ability. It's great to get advice and help from
others, but you have to take that advice for what it's worth: a
suggestion. It's not the be all and end all. You
have to find what works well for you. Seeking help from
someone that has experience with lots of different bodies and abilities
will be of more value.
Mistake #3: Not recognizing we all have to start somewhere.
Whether you are new to running, new to a particular distance, or a
particular workout, you have to start somewhere. You're not
going to finish the race without putting in the work. You
have to go through the steps in order to get to the end. This
may sound like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many runners
think they can do something big, like running a marathon, without
putting in the weeks and months of miles.
Mistake #4: Not recognizing that sometimes less is more. The
easiest way to get injured as a runner is to do too much before you're
ready. Sometimes we may get a little overzealous, to put it
politely, and we take things a little further than maybe our bodies are
Mistake #5: Not listening to your body and knowing your limits. OK, so
you've taken things a little too far before you were ready.
That's fine. But now you're feeling a little ache in your
knee. It's not too bad, so you keep running.
Huh. Now it's really achy. But you have to do your
long run tomorrow. So, you do it. The next morning,
you try to run and can't get through a mile. Sound
familiar? Imagine if you had listened to that little
ache. Maybe iced it, rested a day, and took it a little
slower. Perhaps you wouldn't be sidelined and not able to run
if you had just listened to your body in the first place.
Mistake #6: Getting caught up in comparison. This is a big
one. Comparing ourselves to our running friends, or even the
pros, is tough thing to control. You may ask yourself why you
can't run as fast or as long as one of your friends. Well,
you have to look at the conditions. Do you both train the
same way? Complete the same workouts? Have the same
home and work life? There are a million things to take into
consideration. And what about when everything is exactly the
same and you still can't keep up? Well, unfortunately for
some, a person's genetics are the ultimate determinant of what you can
do on the road. I know, it's a bummer. Blame your
Mistake #7: Believing your doubts. As much as genetics and
our life situations determine our running prowess, your attitude can
make a difference too. You know, we really are our own worse
enemies. When you believe you're not able to do something,
whether it's completing a huge race such as a marathon, or simply just
completing that day's run, you most likely won't be able to do
it. It's usually fear that is causing the doubts to enter
your mind. Letting your fear and doubts take over is
basically never giving yourself a chance. You're selling
Mistake #8: Not recognizing the prize is in the process. I'm
sure you've heard all the sayings. It's all about the
journey. Focus on the journey and not the
destination. You've heard it all. And as much as I
dislike canned sayings, this one is true. It is all about the
process. Your training program is where you get prepared for
the big day, both physically and mentally. Your body learns
how to run the distance, you learn what works and what doesn't, and you
can handle everything mentally and emotionally. You have to
take your training seriously or you just won't get to race
day. Or maybe you will but most likely, you won't have the
race you really want. Trust me on this.
Mistake #9: It's all in your head. Are you recognizing a
pattern here? All of these mistakes are mental.
There are a few mistakes you can make physically, like over-striding or
not wearing shoes that are right for your body. But really,
what will derail your training plan is that noggin of yours.
Don't let your head get the better of you. When you do start
getting a little mental, just stop, relax, and do whatever it is that
helps you clear your head.
Mistake #10: Not having fun. What's the point of doing
anything if it's not fun? When you start feeling like your
running is more like work than play, you may need to back off a bit.
Don't try to run through it. Try taking a day off.
Sometimes a mini-break is all you need to re-energize your running.
We've all made these mistakes once or twice in our running.
Take what you've learned from your mistakes and use it to make your
running that much better.