With almost 2 million people per week running to keep fit, its not surprising to see a few mistakes in people's training along the way. In this blog I aim to highlight a few common mistakes I see people making in training, racing and planning. Please bare in mind that these are aimed for 'club runners' who are aiming to improve their PBs and perform well at certain races.
1. Trying to return from injury too early
Probably the most common mistake I see on social media. Far too many runners take a tiny amount of time off with an injury, then head out to 'test' it and of course set themselves back even more time. Ensure you take as much rest as needed so that the injury is completely healed, and when you do return, make sure you don't jump straight back in at the same distances your were running before. Build back up.
2. Racing to often
Everyone loves to race, and lets face it, it's why lots of us take part in running. But racing every single weekend isn't good for a few reasons. Often it can be far too much stress on the body , even if you have all intentions of not going 'full gas'. Your best option is to pick a few 'A' races, and train towards that rather than doing races that don't fit with your goal. You can have some shorter races in the build up - just not every single weekend.
3. Long training runs too fast
The goal of a long run in training is very simple... build endurance and aerobic fitness. That is all this run is for. You should be able to talk throughout. Some of the issues with going too fast on your long run include:
4. Short speed work intervals too slow
One of my biggest pet hates in club interval sessions. I'll try to put this simply and nicely...
If we are training to run 5km fast, and we have an interval sessions that add up to less than 5km (5 x 800m for example)...IT NEEDS TO BE FASTER THAN 5KM PACE! Not 'at 5km pace' or 'around 5km pace'.
We can already run 5km at that pace, so running it broken up with rests between each rep - it should be faster!
There is an exception to this once the reps become longer than 1 mile, or if training for distances above 10km.
5. Too much stretching pre-race/run
It's pretty well established now that static stretching (the kind where you hold a position at the edge of your range of motion for 15 to 60 seconds, as opposed to bouncing around in "dynamic" stretches) has a dampening effect on strength and power. Its also an unneeded risk. You are far better warming up using mobility and dynamic stretching.
Mobility & Dynamic Stretching involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both. Think 'high knees' and 'heel flicks', ankle rotations and swinging your arms around!
6. Ending training runs with a fast finish
This is a little similar to point 3. Remember your goal for each training session. If it's a long run or tempo run - it's supposed to be just that. All you are doing by running your last km or mile faster is adding fatigue that is going to effect your speed training in the coming days and increase your risk of injury.
7. Increasing distance too quick
This is quite common with new runners who are keen to jump up to longer distances, and also with old school runners returning from a break or injury. As a general rule your longest run of the week shouldn't progress by more than 10%. So if you are training for a marathon and you've ran 20km so far, the following week should be 22km max. Increasing much quicker than this gives you a much higher chance of getting injured.
8. Lack of focus on a specific distance
Everyone must know someone who is training for a marathon but still insists on trying to smash a parkrun PB each week. Try to have a clear idea of which distance you are trying to be good at, and focus your training on this. Save parkrun for your rest weeks, after your main event, or incorporate it as part of your long run if you REALLY must do it. Even top athletes will focus on 5/10km OR Half/Full Marathon. You should do the same.
Know someone who trains like a monster but never performs on race day? Chances are they are over-training. This can either be too much intensity, too much distance or not enough rest. If you find you are one of these people make sure your long runs are slow enough, your intervals are consistent (not fading each rep) and that you are following the next point...
10. Lack of 'recovery' or periodisation
No one can keep on training hard week after week after week. You need to give yourself time to adapt to your training and recover ready for the next block of hard work. Athletes should work hard for 2/3/4 weeks and then take a 'recovery' week, where intensity will be slightly reduced, and you'll be re-focused ready for the next 2/3/4 weeks training. This also reduces chances of injury and helps with motivation.