Running in and of itself is pretty simple. However, if you have specific goals in mind for improving your performance and you want to beat your personal best at a particular race, then things start getting more complex. We have put together some useful information for you on how to run better and avoid making the five most common training mistakes for runners.
5 Common Running Mistakes
1. Running only at a “feel good-pace”
Many runners train regularly and enthusiastically for a long time, but don’t understand why they aren’t getting faster. The reason for this is often the monotony of their training program. If you are running just for the sake of exercise, then training in your comfort zone is totally fine.
But if you want to boost your performance and increase your speed, then you need to add some variety to your training routine. The most important factor for improving your performance is creating a training stimulus. Your body needs to be pushed out of its comfort zone (homeostasis) to kick-start the recovery/adaptation process that will make you faster. If you always run at the same pace, you will improve initially, but soon your body will get used to that effort level. The training stimulus will no longer be sufficient to trigger the adaptation process. That is why it is necessary to vary your training volume and intensity. You can spice up your training with different running workouts like intervals, tempo runs, hills or fartleks and thus force your body to constantly meet new challenges.
2. The more, the better
This mantra is basically correct, but it also comes with certain risks. Professional runners do twelve or more workouts per week. It takes several years of intense training to build up the strength and stamina necessary to work out at such high volumes. Many runners increase the number of training sessions from one day to the next from one or two times a week to five or six times because they have recently decided to train for a marathon. But since the passive structures of the body (bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, etc.) require time to get used to the new loads, this often leads to overuse injuries. These include runner’s knee, shin splints and achillodynia (inflammation of the Achilles tendon). Therefore, it is important to give yourself enough time to prepare properly for the race. You should increase your training volume and intensity gradually and in accordance with your fitness level to avoid overtraining and overuse injuries.
3. False ambition in the last weeks before the race
Have you been working hard for weeks to get ready for a particular race only to stand at the starting line and realize that you don’t feel ready? Not exactly great conditions for running a new personal best… This mistake is due to false ambition in the last one or two weeks before the race. Many runners think they have to give it their all right up until the big race. But what they should be doing is the exact opposite: Tapering involves reducing your normal running volume by 30-50 % depending on your training age, your performance level and the distance of the race. At the same time, you should include one or two hard workouts to give your muscles one last intense stimulus to optimally prepare your body for the demands of the upcoming race. You should also avoid strength training and unfamiliar exercises in the last days before the race. Fatigued or sore muscles can quickly endanger your target race time.
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4. Intense workouts without warming up
Unfortunately, the positive effects of warming up are often underestimated. In fact, a proper warm-up can help you set a new personal best, and should be a regular part of your training. A good warm-up can lower the risk of injury especially for fast and explosive muscle contractions, as well as movements that require a high degree of flexibility. A number of scientific studies have shown that warmed-up body tissue is capable of tolerating more stress. Plus, warming up also reduces the risk of injury by improving your concentration and speeding up your reaction time.
5. Avoiding cross-training of any kind
Many running injuries are a result of muscular imbalances and underdeveloped back and abdominal muscles. That is why you should regularly incorporate runner-specific strengthening and stabilization exercises into your training routine. A strong core not only helps you run more efficiently, but it also eliminates compensatory movements, stabilizes your spine and prevents injuries and overuse symptoms. Don’t miss our article about strength training for runners.
If you avoid these common mistakes, nothing can really go wrong when you’re running. We wish you the best of luck on your next race!