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Avoid common running mistakes

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with Steve Manning, Level 4 running Coach, and podiatrist.

Many of the runners who I see for their first training program have been making the same mistakes…

The result is continually underperforming in races but also not enjoying their training.

Most of these mistakes can be described as doing too much or too little.

Check these four areas against your own training so you can avoid making the same common mistakes. I’ve highlighted after each common training mistake, the value each of these areas can help you become a better, and more confident runner.

Training Pace or Intensity:

Running your mileage too fast.

The most common mistake novice runners make is running too much of your mileage too fast. Runners often tell me they think that to run under 60 minutes for 10km then they should try to run all their runs at that pace. In fact, most of your training should be run at 30 to 60 seconds slower than your predicted pace for a marathon. If you do the bulk of your training too fast then you will not recover from the stress of the training and will not improve.

Lack of speedwork: ‘The mono-paced runner’

The other side of this training intensity is not doing any speedwork. Running all your training at the same pace will result in you being a mono paced runner. Speedwork is not sprinting but you need to learn to run shorter segments like kilometre repetitions at 10km pace, 5km pace and 3km pace. This gives you a better training effect while also improving pace judgement.

Training Load:

Training more and more

It is tempting to try and train more and more as you gain fitness and experience. The law of diminishing returns means that at some point adding extra distance will result in no improvement to your fitness or even worse a reduction in your performance. This will lead to constant soreness and tiredness and eventually illness or injury. The total training load should be progressed gradually.

Infrequent sessions

Not enough frequency of sessions or too many days off in a row is also a problem for runners. Regular running is needed for your body to be stimulated to adapt and grow stronger. When you have more than one day off your connective tissue gets tight and is more susceptible to a strain leading to injury. More running frequency can in fact lead to fewer running injuries.

Racing:

Not using lead up races

Usually, people are motivated to enter some major race in the future. It might be a new year’s resolution or a pact with a friend to do a marathon. This goal race is months away and they often put all their eggs in one basket having no lead-up races. You need to take many small steps up to your major goal race including some races at shorter distances. That way you can practice pace control in a big crowd and are less likely to make a pacing error in your major goal race.

Running every parkrun hard

Parkrun is a fantastic opportunity for runners of all abilities to regularly race in a group over a shorter distance that does not impact adversely on your general training. However, many new runners try and run fast every Parkrun. Most of the time they should be approached as Tempo runs not races. You trial different pacing strategies and perhaps once a month try and do a fast race. If you are always trying for a PB you will be frequently disappointed and become jaded when you can not perform at your best every race.

Footwear:

Running in old or inappropriate shoes

The biggest preventable mistake for new runners is wearing old or inappropriate shoes. They may not realise that their shoes are worn out because they are just looking at the outsole wear when the cushioning in the midsole is the most likely thing to wear out first. When they start running they will wear the shoes they have been using for Gym, hiking and wearing around casually. Your shoes will not have a large contribution to injuries in those activities but are a significant factor in running injuries.

As the owner of a running shoe store, I can guarantee there is no downside to having too many shoes!🙂 If you are running more than 3 times a week, running shoes specific to you different sessions and races makes a massive difference to your performance… and running mojo!!

I really love seeing runners enjoy your training and racing experiences. If you have any questions, make sure you connect with our running team at the intraining Running Centre in Toowong. You can also email us at [email protected].

Have a great year of running.

Steve.

Need further assistance with your training program, shoes, nutrition or injury advice?