Top 10 Mistakes Runners Make

#10 Stretching

Many beginning runners think they need to “stretch” out before their runs. So they put their legs up on a ledge, stretching their hamstrings or stretching their calves on a curb. BAD IDEA. Static stretching before running actually hinders your running performance and can lead to injury. Static stretching causes an inhibition of the muscle tissue which actually causes a decrease in muscle function. You are basically telling your body to relax before asking it to perform. So what to do? DYNAMIC stretching. This type of stretching trains the muscles to warm-up and fire the way you want them to through a series of dynamic movements (see handout for dynamic stretches). However, do not neglect the importance of static stretching at the right time…AFTER your run! Stretch GENTLY within 15 minutes after every run and take your time. Benefits can include less soreness, greater flexibility, longer stride, and much more.

#9 No Support from Friends & Family

SHARE your goal with their friends, family, or co-workers. If you are afraid you will tell them and then fail to achieve your goal, then you DEFINITELY need to tell them! It will give you the motivation to prove them wrong. Fear can often be the most powerful form of motivation. Use it! Family & friends should be supportive of you especially when you get into the hardest, longest weeks of training, they need to be understanding and willing to help. Word of Warning: Do not try to keep them updated on your day to day progress. Unless they are a runner, they simply will not understand nor will they want to hear your mile by mile break down of your long run. Think of that friend or co-worker who insists on telling you about every shot they had yesterday playing 18 holes of golf. Do you really care to hear about it?

#8 No Belief in Yourself

Many new runners or runners that have taken some time off will start training and have a very difficult time completing their first 5-mile run. This brings doubt into their minds…they don’t see how they can possibly run double, triple or quadruple that distance. If this doubt is allowed to fester than it’s all over. Done. Finished. They CAN do it, but they can’t because they don’t think they can. Confused? Try this…

“If you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”

- Henry Ford

Time to start believing you can!

#7 Motivation

There are lots of things that will come up during training that can cause you to lose motivation. It is very likely that you will miss a run or two or three due to work, family, injury, illness, and all those other things that come with life. No matter what the reason NEVER lose sight of your goal or you will find yourself missing more and more runs and revert back to MISTAKE #8 “No Belief in Yourself”. Post your goal somewhere you will see it EVERYDAY, just as a constant reminder. No matter what happens choose to see the situation as positive and keep going. Remind yourself of the feelings you had when completing a new distance PR or of the feeling you will have when you achieve your goal.

#6 Aiming too high?

Yes, it is possibly to set your goals too high and set yourself up for disappointment. Many first time runners think they should set a marathon finish time goal. BAD IDEA. Your goal for your first marathon or half marathon should simply be to finish. If you push yourself too much, you are dramatically increasing the likelihood of injury and not even seeing the starting line. Set a time goal for your next marathon or half marathon after you see what you are capable of during your first. Be smart and set the right goals.

#5 Wrong Training Program

This usually relates to setting a time goal. Many runners follow a program of greater difficulty because they want to achieve a certain time. Then they fall victim to injury or overtraining so they quit. You won’t have this problem because you have an EXCELLENT training program designed by two AMAZING coaches, Hal Higdon & Meghan Kennihan ;)! That being said don’t push it… just because you read an article in Runners World that says you should be doing 20 x 400 every two weeks @ 5K pace does not mean that it’s for you.

#4 Starting Too Fast

Many runners begin their training and feel they can run more than the scheduled training. What do they do? They go the extra mile (or more). In both training programs, there is a reason for gradually increasing mileage each week. If you feel really strong when you begin training and want to run more, PLEASE resist the temptation. By going the extra mile, you are substantially increasing the likelihood of injury and overtraining. Stay with the program. Believe in yourself and the program. Achieve your goal!

#3 Lack of Knowledge

Many runners decide they want to run a marathon or half marathon and just start running. No homework, no schedule, no advice, no nothing. They just start running because they think they simply need to get in shape to start training and then they will figure out the rest. Educate yourself on training as much as you can before you begin training. Also make sure you are properly attired. Go to a specialty running store and make sure you have the right shoes, socks, and apparel or you will be miserable. If you are reading this and following the training plans provided, you are already on your way to beating the #3 mistake! Congratulations!

#2 Hydration

Many runners suffer from dehydration because they underestimate how much water their body needs during training. Drink during your long runs. Try weighing yourself before and after a run and get your body weight back to what it was before the run. Do this by drinking plenty of water. Your urine should be light yellow to clear. Dark yellow means you are not adequately hydrated and need to drink more water. Be wary though, there is such a thing as overhydrating. So drink when you are thirsty (it is a myth that when you are thirsty you are already dehydrated) and listen to your body.

#1 Injury

Many beginning runners and veterans make the mistake of piling on mileage or speedwork too fast. They start training without even building up a base and a week or two into it they notice soreness in their shins, IT bands, or knees and ignore it because running is suppose to come with a little pain…right? WRONG. Keep running and you are done, ignoring aches and pains is the best way to get injured. Be aware of the warning signs and how to treat them. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). The best thing to do is when in doubt about whether you should “run through” the pain DON’T! GRADUALLY build up and take your rest days seriously. Remember how many of the other Top 10 Mistakes lead to injury. Do not let injury keep you from achieving your goal.