In order to perform well on the day and avoid injury, it’s important to train for your run correctly. Here are just a few common training mistakes to avoid when preparing for a run, whether it’s a 5k or a marathon.
Wearing the wrong footwear
It’s worth investing in a pair of running shoes when training for a competitive run. Regular shoes don’t have the support and cushioning that is required to protect your feet from injury. As a result, you’re more likely to end up with a sprain (or worse a fracture).
A good pair of running shoes usually costs between $100 to $170. Cheaper shoes are unlikely to be of high quality, while shoes that are more expensive than this price range are really only suitable for professional athletes. It’s worth visiting a running specialty store who will usually be able to recommend a pair of shoes based on the type of running you’re doing.
Wearing the wrong clothing
On top of footwear, you need to wear the right clothing. Loose sports-specific clothing is less likely to chafe or soak up sweat.
Ideally, you want to wear as few layers as you can get away with. Some runners make the mistake of layering up in the winter and then getting hot as they run, resulting in them having to take off these layers and carry them around with them. If you can grin and bear it, you’re better off having no jacket. Alternatively, there are special running jackets that are light and waterproof that could be worth looking into.
You may also want to buy sports socks that don’t rub or get too sweaty. A sports bra could also be important for women runners, helping to offer support.
Running too hard, too soon
When training up for long runs, you want to build your way up slowly. Running too hard, too soon will increase your risk of an injury – your muscles and joints won’t be used to it and you’re likely to pull something.
There are guides online that can help you pace out your running training so that you’re not running too far or too fast in the beginning. As a rule, your weekly distance shouldn’t increase by more than 10%.
Running on uneven surfaces
Uneven surfaces such as cobbles, beaches or rough country lanes could increase your risk of an injury. Stick to flat tarmac or a treadmill if you can to minimize the chance of injuring yourself. Feel free to take on hills as there may well be section of elevation on your run, but make sure that you’re not scrambling up bumpy slopes.
Not drinking enough water
A lot of new runners end up getting dehydrated because they underestimate how much fluids they lose whilst running. This can increase the risk of injury and slow down your performance.
Ideally, you should be drinking 16 to 24 ounces of water before you start running and about 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes during your run. Obviously, you should try to drink more on a very hot day. Marathon training comes with its own set of rules when it comes to fluids, which you read online here.
Eating the wrong foods
You should also watch which foods you’re eating while training for your run. Eating the wrong foods could affect your performance if you don’t have sufficient energy or are suffering from stomach cramps.
A high carb meal is worth eating two hours before you run. Avoid foods that are high in fat or fiber as these will likely cause digestive problems. You can take foods with you on your run, but these should ideally be nothing more than snacks such as cereal bars or bananas.
Trying to train through an injury
Training with an injury will likely make that injury worse. You could even turn it into a permanent injury.
As frustrating as sports injuries are, your best option is to take a break from training and allow yourself time to recover. You may be able to speed up the recovery process by looking into sports injury treatment. Physiotherapy and heat/cold treatments are recommended when nursing a sports injury.
Breath control is an important part of running and is something that many newbie runners overlook. If you breathe too shallow, you’ll be more likely to get a stitch.
Practice deep belly breathing as you run. It’s also important to breath through your nose and mouth so that you’re taking in enough oxygen.
Overtraining just before the event
In the weeks leading up to your running event, you don’t want to go overboard and train too much. This could leave you knackered and achy for when have to do the big run, and your performance will likely suffer.
Aim to get to the level you need to be at a couple weeks before the event and then take it easy for those last few weeks.
Not recording progress
Without recording your progress from week to week, you won’t know how to improve. Nowadays there are plenty of running apps that are effective at recording everything from your steps, to your time to your route. You can also make use of wearable tech to measure your heart rate. By having a clear idea of how good your performance is from week to week, you’ll always have something to beat and you’ll be more motivated to train regularly.