Looking back at my training over the years, I do a lot of cringing.
As in, insert forehead slap, “What was I thinking?!”
Name any single mistake – not practicing fueling during training, running the same paces for every run, wearing the wrong shoes for my gait, skipping on strength training, I’ve done them all. I’d like to think I’m getting wiser the more I run, that I’m learning from my past mistakes. But I’m a stubborn runner. Sometimes it takes a failure or five, for me to have an AHA! moment.
Here are three mistakes that I think I’ve finally kicked.
Running through an injury
You’re out on a glorious run when out of the blue, your knee starts to ache. You think it’ll go away and try to run through it. It doesn’t go away and is still there two days later but you still keep running, hoping it will magically disappear. I can’t even count on one hand how many times I’ve done this. It’s stupid and I know it.
Five years ago, I was aiming for a PR in the half marathon. My mileage was higher than ever. Training was good. I was feeling strong except for a nagging tendon injury in my ankle/foot that would not go away completely. I could run, it wasn’t painful, but it was noticeable. Looking back, I should have forgot about that particular half marathon. I needed time off from running to fully heal. There would be other races to run. But I didn’t listen. I ran the race and tanked 3 miles in.
I’ve learned that I need to listen to my body more. I’m a work in progress but I think I’m getting better. When I noticed my Achilles was thickened, I stopped running, rest it for a week and consulted a friend who is a physical therapist. I missed running but it wasn’t the end of the world to lay off. Since I reduced my mileage and was proactive, my Achilles did not progress anymore and feels better than ever. If I would have kept my mileage up and waited for it to start hurting, who knows what state it would be in now.
Not Training My Mind
I can be my own worst enemy. When things get tough, my mind instantly turns to negative thoughts. I can’t becomes my mantra. In the same half marathon I mentioned above, I think one of the main reasons I tanked at mile 3 was from negative thoughts. I was so worried beforehand that my tendon injury was going to prevent me from reaching my goal. Worry leads to self sabotage. I felt one little twinge and spiraled out of control with negativity. By mile 6 I was ready to walk off the course.
I’ve learned that running is at least 90% mental. My mind needs to be trained just as much as my muscles and cardiorespiratory system. When negative thoughts creep in, I now replace it with a positive. Even a simple “I CAN!” shifts my outlook and effort. It’s worked well for races when I absolutely felt defeated but again, it’s something that I need to practice often.
Keeping Up with The Joneses (or Kardashians if you can stomach watching that show)
It’s no secret that I love social media. I mean, I wouldn’t be blogging and sharing things on Instagram or Facebook daily if I didn’t. It’s a great way to connect with like minded runners. But it does have its drawbacks. I’m sure you’ve seen runners sharing their paces and mileage. I’ve been shocked to see some of the numbers especially when it’s a runner who I think I’m comparable to. If she runs that pace, why can’t I? Some runners seem to be running blazing fast speeds no matter if it’s an easy day or a speed workout. If it works for them, it should work for you, right? Wrong. Stay in your own lane. First of all – just because it’s on social media, doesn’t mean it’s true. Second of all – that runner will probably be injured soon so don’t follow their lead. Stop trying to keep up other runners. You do your own thing.
I’m not a perfect runner. I make mistakes just like everyone else. However, with every mistake, there is a learning opportunity. Sometimes, I get the mistake right away and change my ways. Other times, it take a few dozen times. The more I learn from my mistakes, the better runner I become. And that’s something we should all strive for!
What training mistakes are you guilty of?
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