Friday, August 29, 2014

The 5 Most Common Mistakes That New Runners Make

Did you just started running within the last year?  Do you have running goals?  Don’t underestimate the importance of being patient.  It really takes about 2-3 years to really see what your true running potential will be.  Most runners set their expectations too high and end up getting injured because of it.  You have to first get your body used to running.  Here are the five most common mistakes that new runners make.

Having unreasonable goals:  When I first started running, I ran 3 miles with some friends at a 12:30 min/mile pace.  Within 3 months I was running at under a 10:00 pace.  I immediately wanted to get faster to keep up with some friends who ran marathons.  You should figure out what your goals are, but make them reasonable.  If you eventually want to do marathons, start with a goal of a 5k race, then 10k race, etc…  Keep doing this without skipping race distances.  Setting unreasonable goals will almost definitely result in injury.

Progress slowly:  Use the 10 percent rule when you are increasing speed or distance.  I started my half marathon training with a 5 mile long run and increased my long run mileage by a mile per week.  Your long runs should typically be easy (a comfortable speed where you could hold a conversation).  Check out for training plans for different race distances and abilities.  They are great plans and are free.

Not enough variety in your runs:  My training plan calls for one speed workout a week (intervals or tempo runs), one longer run a week and the rest should be easier runs.  You can add Fartleks to easy runs if you want to make them more difficult.  A Fartlek (a Swedish term meaning “speed play”) is where you run short segments (30-60 seconds) at a faster pace, typically your 5k race pace.  These faster segments can be done at any random time throughout your run.  They will help you get faster without taxing your body too much.

Fall in the race-day adrenaline hype:  I luckily did not have this issue during my first race because I listed to almost everyone talk about how they always start out too quickly.  You will typically run 20-30 seconds per mile faster than your training speed.  I try to find a person about half a mile into the race who is going the same pace that I want to run (or slightly faster) and chase them during the race.  Have a plan going into the race and stick with it.  Don’t get 2 miles into your first 5k and have nothing left in the tank because you started off too quickly.

The importance of strength training:  For me this is probably the most important key to staying injury free.  There are numerous plans you can follow for free.  I like the phone app Skimble.  I have been doing the Total Beach Body Series (10 workouts) over and over for the last 3 months.  They don’t require more than 10 pound dumbbells at the most and last 18-23 minutes.  It is considered High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and is one of the best ways to lose weight, get stronger and have more energy.  It has been the single most significant part of me becoming faster and running injury free for the last 6 months. 

I am a very impatient person when it comes to my fitness goals.  I started out too quickly and ended up with shin splints, Achilles tendon issues, tendonitis, and an issue with my hip flexor all within the first year of running.  If I would have just followed the advice above, I would have reached my goals sooner than I did.  All of the injuries slowed down my progress.  Please learn from my mistakes and don’t let it happen to you. 

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