5 Common Training Mistakes
5 Common Training Mistakes
Most people believe that practice makes perfect. But what if you're practicing the wrong thing?
As runners we are products of our training. If we repetitively get the little things wrong, we are only setting ourselves up for failure. Practice doesn't make perfect, but rather, perfect practice makes perfect. Here are five common mistakes to avoid in your training.
1. TRAINING WHILE SICK
Unfortunately we all get sick at some point, and as runners this raises the question - should I train or rest?
If you have an acute sickness that could be infectious, then training with a group is an automatic no- you do not want to be the person responsible for spreading a nasty bug through the whole group. Then the question becomes 'is it okay to do a solo session?'. This is tricky because there are lots of different types of sickness, but generally when you are sick your body needs to rest in order to combat the infection. Therefore, the best thing you can do is rest and give your body the time it needs to recover. Running while sick will often make you feel worse and will delay your recovery.
Additionally, if your health is compromised, then your training will be too. You need to be healthy in order to train effectively. Runners need to remember HEALTH FIRST, TRAINING SECOND.
2. Not Warming Up and Cooling Down
Almost every runner is guilty of cutting corners in either the warm up or cool down, or even completely neglecting to do them. The purpose of the warm up is to prepare the body for the upcoming workout. A warm up should therefore be included before every run. This could be as simple as a period of very easy running prior to any effort. The warm up is especially important if you're running either first thing in the morning or later in the day. This is because you have likely just spent up to the last 8 hours being sedentary, either sleeping overnight or sitting at work all day.
When it comes to the cool down, runners are terrible! The purpose of the cool down is to return the body back to a resting state and to facilitate recovery. The cool down needs to be easy and the best way to ensure that is to complete it as a walk. A simple tip is to finish your run 500m from where you started and then walk the rest of the way. Stop your watch, and your precious average pace won't be affected on your Garmin- no excuses! This also gives you the chance to reflect on the run and look at the data collected on your Garmin. Without even trying, by the time you have walked 500m, you will have completed your cool down.
Warming up and cooling down do not need to be highly structured or time consuming - they just need to be done. Make them a part of your routine and experience how much easier running feels, and how much better you feel the next day.
3. Making Up Sessions
If you miss a session/run, then that run is gone- it should not be made up later in the week. Making this a rule will increase your accountability, as if you do sleep through the alarm, then your opportunity to complete that planned run is gone forever. The danger of making up sessions is that by the end of the week you may be left with the majority of your runs/kms to complete. This will leave insufficient time for recovery and you will fall in an acute state of over training, which increases your likelihood of injury. Most runners think they have to complete every run every week in order to achieve their goal. This is far from correct- if over a 12 week training period you consistently complete at least 80% of your programmed runs, then you'll be ready to go.
Runners want to run. There is a big difference between "missing" and "skipping" a run. If you have missed a run, it is normally because something stressful has taken its place. These are typically family and work commitments which are often unavoidable. Since something stressful has taken the place of the run, the last thing you need to do is put more stress on your system and flog the proverbial horse by training. The key message is stick to the program, but if you miss a run, it's gone and you'll feel much better on your next run.
4. Not Listening To your Body
If you are unusually sore or tired, this is your body screaming out to you "I NEED A REST". Listening to your body isn't just related to injuries- we all know too well the effects of ignoring an ongoing niggle that can easily turn into a serious injury. For the most part, runners are getting better at listening to their bodies in relation to specific aches and pains and seeking treatment to prevent them from turning into serious injuries.
However, what most runners are guilty of is ignoring when the whole body is tired and sore. Many runners will just push through this and continue to train day after day, despite feeling like absolute trash. A lot of runners have become conditioned to accept that running hurts. Running should not be something that always hurts or always leaves you sore and questioning 'why do I do this...?'. If this is you or you are consistently feeling tired and sore, then you are probably in a state of chronic over training. Quite simply, you are not giving your body enough recovery and you will be in a constant state of under performing.
If your body is screaming out for a rest - give it a rest. This might mean having a complete rest day, or maybe just running a little slower or a little shorter to give your body the time required to adequately recover.
5. Chasing Round Numbers
Many runners are OCD about round numbers. There is just something attractive about looking down at the Garmin after a run and seeing a number followed by a zero. A trap that many runners fall into is chasing round numbers on their Garmin - either just going a little further to finish on a full km, or pushing the pace just to get their average pace under the magic round number. While this might seem trivial or not worth worrying about, these little extras quickly add up, and by doing so you are neglecting your body.
Here's the scenario; you are completing an hour run and look down at your Garmin to see 11.3km in 1:00:31 - what do you do? Yep, thats right you run the extra 700m, because 12km looks so much better than 11.3km. So just as you are completing the 12km you look at the Garmin and see the time 1:04:16 - so close to 65 minutes, what do you do?
Don't let your obsession dictate your training. It is very easy to fall into the trap of going a little faster or a little further just so the numbers look more attractive, but this will be detrimental in the long term.
Running is a long term game. You want to make decisions today that will benefit you tomorrow. If you're ever in doubt, do less- that way you have the opportunity to do more tomorrow. Any one of these common running mistakes could result in the undoing of training and hard work. By being a little smarter in your training, you can bring yourself one step closer to achieving your running goals.
Article written by Blayne Arnold