Mistakes in running training can affect fitness and susceptibility to injury. Here are the 10 most common mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.
The form is there. You’ve been preparing for your big goal for over half a year – and now this: A sudden stiffness in your calf forces you to take a break, and later even to abandon your plan. Instead of completing the planned first marathon, you are left empty-handed, with an injured calf and a huge disappointment.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation for runners who spend months preparing for a big goal. In this article, we will show you the 10 most common mistakes and, above all, how you can avoid them so that you can make it to your goal without any problems.
1. Increasing volume too much
You are motivated and want to do especially well. You increase the number of your running sessions from three to five. After one month you feel how you run easier and it takes you less time to cover the same distance. But already in the second month you notice that you are often irritable, your musculoskeletal system starts to ache and you feel tired. The only way to get out of this slump is to take a break.
Better: You should increase the number of running units step by step. Give your body the necessary time to get used to the increased load. Only add another unit when you have coped well with the first additional unit. So don’t add two extra units at once. Keep the additional sessions relatively short at the beginning and complete them at a very low intensity. In addition, always build in a week in which you run significantly less often, so that your body recovers and the structures can adapt.
2. No variation
Instead of following the basic principles of training theory, you fall into the “hobby jogger trap”: you run every session at more or less the same pace. You are never really fast and certainly not slow. At the same time, you wonder why you’re not getting faster.
Better: Differentiate in the area of duration as well as intensity. Three-quarters of your workouts should be in the basic range and last 45 to 90 minutes. Long jogs you can extend up to two hours, marathon aspirants even up to three hours. However, only a quarter of the units happen in the intense range. Here, the duration of the load is between about 10 and 30 minutes for high-intensity units and 30 to 90 minutes in the medium range. By maintaining the extensive intensity range, fat burning is optimized, which has a positive effect on your performance because you can preserve carbohydrates for longer.
3. Training with a guilty conscience
Instead of trusting a training plan, your guilty conscience takes over the closer you get to your goal. In the last weeks before the big competition, people try to make up for what they missed with a crowbar. Training frequency, volume and intensity are massively increased. The result is either an injury or great fatigue on day X.
Better: Trust the training plan you worked out at the beginning of the training period and follow it with the “courage to leave gaps”. If you can run the suggested workouts to specification, you will have the confidence that you will be able to achieve the goal in the desired time, even in competition. This gives you confidence and wings. However, in the days leading up to the competition, also have the courage to skip a session and recover instead. No one has ever stood on the starting line too well rested, but some have been too tired.
4. Lack of recovery
Unlike the professional, the amateur runner doesn’t have (or rather take) quite as much time to recover. This is despite the fact that it is precisely recovery after training stimuli that makes us faster and have better endurance.
Better: plan not only your workouts, but also your recovery, and adjust your daily routine accordingly. Treat yourself regularly to a massage or a sauna session. After a workout, lie down for a few minutes before getting back to work. Training AND recovery go together like the tides. It’s imperative to have both if you want to get ahead.
5. Inappropriate footwear
If you wear bad or worn-out shoes, you will have less fun and risk problems with your musculoskeletal structure. In addition, you have to get used to new shoes just a few days before the race.
Better: Since eccentric loads occur during running and you have too little time between training sessions to recover from overloads, you should definitely have suitable running shoes. Get advice from a specialist store and, above all, change your old shoes in good time. Ideally, you should have at least two models to alternate. This ensures that you keep the strain on your musculoskeletal system as low as possible and that your muscles are challenged in a versatile way. Also, as soon as conditions permit, run barefoot on a grassy field for a few minutes on a regular basis; this can also be done immediately after a workout. This will strengthen your foot muscles.
6. Just Run and Nothing Else
You are accumulating kilometer after kilometer, things are going well and there is no time for supplementary measures. A pinch here, a pull there you consider quite normal.
Better: Running is a complex matter, a mix of the factors endurance, strength, agility, coordination and speed. If you only focus on the endurance factor, your house or your musculoskeletal system will be on shaky ground in the long run and will eventually collapse. With an agility program and gym exercises (ideally at least twice a week), you can ensure that you firstly remain free of pain, secondly cope better with each individual workout and thirdly remain (or become) physically and mentally mobile in everyday life.
7. Running the hard way
According to the motto “Pain is temporary – glory lasts forever” you design your training with a crowbar. More is more, you think. You suppress any pain that occurs in the musculoskeletal system. You react to bad results at preparation competitions by increasing the training load in general and the intensitiy of training in particular.
Better: Runners are among the most vulnerable endurance athletes to injuries. Therefore, take your body’s signs seriously early on and give it a break when it needs it. Normally, it will even reward you with an increase in performance after periods of rest. Under no circumstances should you increase your training speed if you were unable to run at the desired pace during a competition. On the contrary, take a step back and carefully rebuild your performance with lower intensity.
8. Too fast too far
Long runs, so-called long jogs are the life insurance on the way to a successful marathon, you have read that somewhere. So you set out as a test and try to run the 35 kilometers without much preparation. Immediately after the run you feel terrific, but the day after you feel miserable and you feel every single muscle.
Better: approach the long runs step by step. Increase the length of your longest run by a maximum of 15 minutes per week and deliberately keep the intensity very low. Only when you have reached three hours can you try to increase the intensity, and for example run at 90% of marathon speed or a continuous increase run (crescendo). You should not run longer than three hours, even if the marathon is significantly longer for you. The benefits of even longer sessions are not commensurate with the risk of injury, especially for amateur runners. Rather, switch to a coupled workout: Run for three hours first and then bike for another hour or two (or vice versa).
9. Too much ambition
You are aiming for the 4-hour mark in a marathon or the 90-minute mark in a half marathon. You are currently miles away from it, but you really want to reach this goal. You always run at a (too) fast pace in training and thus reliably train yourself into the basement.
Better: Run according to your current performance level and not after a target time. This way you can be sure that you will improve little by little and maybe end up with your target time.
10. Trying to have your cake and eat it too
You like to run competitions, but at the same time you don’t want to miss club workouts. You shimmy from competition to competition and don’t miss a single interval unit in the club. But you realize that you can’t keep up with the runners of the last few years who are equally strong, neither at the competitions nor in the club training.
Better: Bring structure into your training: Set yourself two big goals per year and prepare them with three to four competitions at the most. Have a recovery week after competitions and don’t run hard again until one day has passed per race mile.
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