Even very experienced runners can make mistakes when they are in training for a race or marathon. Often runners think that all they need to do is run to be competitive in a race. But, just running the same terrain at the same pace will not increase the athlete’s speed or endurance. There are some basic mistakes that runners tend to make when they start a running program for an event.
1. Cross Training
When a runner does the same type of training day after day without variety, they can quickly hit a plateau in their performance. The runner may be doing speed running, tempo running and even long distances running which is good, but all they are doing is running.
Muscles have memory. When an athlete performs the same training activities using the same muscles each day, then the muscles will automatically go into that training mode from memory and will not grow. The trick is to cross-train to trick the muscles and performance into a new training mode. This is when advances in speed, agility, and endurance occur. A training workout that is only one-dimensional can lead to injury.
Cross training means running one day, and changing the workout routine the next day. Endurance and stamina training will increase muscle strength and agility. The body likes variety, and a lack of variety in the training workout can lead to muscle stagnation. Try cycling or swimming to vary the workout.
2. Lack of Weight Training
To segue from the need for variety, weight training will actually add to the runner’s training, contrary to the belief that added muscle will take away from the runner’s performance. According to Jull Bruyere, a fitness professional and running coach, weight training will actually help the runner gain power and strength that results in reducing the risk of injury.
Weight training does not mean lifting heavy weights to develop bulk; it means challenging the muscles for a lean, toned physique that will result in increased speed and economy. Since gym time is precious when training to run an event, using the body weight during the weight training session means that it can be accomplished outdoors as part of the run. Push-ups, chin-ups, or leg lunges use the body’s own weight for strength training.
The wrong diet and weight training exercises bulk up the body. Weight training correctly, especially when use the body’s weight, will result in leaner, trimmer muscles which are what will assist, not hinder the runner.
3. No Time for Recovery
A 2010 article in the October issue of Running Time Magazine on runner training mistakes, focused on the need to take time for recovery. Runners need to take a couple of recovery breaks each year. This is when running stops, both physically and mentally. By taking a week or two off, the body gets to relax and recharge itself. Not factoring in a recovery time can lead to a performance plateau that many runners cannot overcome.
Resting also recharges the mind. Runners who are resting can cross-train so they do not feel they will lose their competitive edge. Or they can run only one or two days a week if not running at all will result in withdrawal but tone it down to a 40 or 30 percent level during the run. Balance in life makes for a stronger competitive spirit.
4. Not Training for the Entire Run
If the runner is doing a 26 mile race, running for 18 miles each day is not training for the event. While the runner has to pace herself, not actually running the entire race mileage will result in not being able to complete the final miles that the body has not learned how to run.
The trick is to taper the workout. This means reducing the length of the training for a period before the race. The tapering should start one month before the actual race. Cross train during this period to keep in shape. Two weeks before the race start increasing the running time and mileage until running 20 or 21 miles. This will better prepare the runner to actually run the 26 mile race.
Remember, running is a mental as well as a physical activity. The mind needs to be trained for the entire length of the race as well as the body.
5. Not Fueling and Hydrating the Body
The runner needs energy. When a runner does not have enough energy in store they cannot run as fast or as hard. Eating the right diet and right amount of carbohydrates during the total training time is crucial. It is not enough to carb-up on race day. In general, for the period of training eat about 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
Eating carbohydrates during the workout keeps blood glucose levels high for energy, and eating carbohydrates after the workout maximizes recovery and stores glycogen for energy for the next workout. Fifty to sixty percent of the diet should come from complex carbohydrates, and 20 to 25 percent should be protein. One way to easily supply your body with the nutrients and energy it needs is through supplements. Supplements are a runners best friend because the small pills or drinks can pack a huge punch without the need to scarf down a large meal and have that bloated, stuffed feeling.
Hydrating the body is also important. Sometimes runners do not know how much water they should be drinking and do not recognize the signs of thirst. A runner should always carry water with them, and sip it during the run.
One way to tell that the body is well hydrated is by the color of the urine. If it is not almost clear or a very light yellow, the body is not hydrated enough.
Training for the runner is not as simple as just going outside and running. The mental part of running plays an important role in completing the race or marathon. Condition the mind to complete the run before it even starts. Visualize crossing the finish line, and it will happen.