I’ve been running races for quite a while now. It’s been 20 years and throughout those years I think I’ve made every conceivable running mistake in the book. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see how obvious some of those mistakes were. However, in the heat of the moment, especially when I was training hard to achieve my goals, I would sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. So, through those mistakes, I have learned quite a lot, and I would like to tell you about some of them so you can apply them to your own training. After all, isn’t the best way to gain wisdom to learn from the experience of others?
The first thing you should do is choose a plan that works for you, and then stick to that plan. Whatever you do, do not fall into the trap of trying to copy what other runners are doing thinking you’re going to get the same results. Social media has a bad habit of making us think we’re doing it wrong. Whatever plan you choose, have faith in it. Work on it, every day, and every week, exactly the way you laid it out, and try to avoid injury. Make sure you get to race day whole.
Runners aren’t the same. They’re all different and the kind of mileage that works for another runner will not work for you. The only way you’ll know what’s manageable for your body is by building time for the race. Your body will be the easiest way to know what works for you. It will talk to you. You might achieve your personal record with fewer miles or more miles. It really all depends. Just make sure you experiment as much as possible to understand where your threshold is. Once you find a clear rhythm, stick to that rhythm.
So how do you know that you’re overtraining? There are actually quite a few common signs. Is your pace slowing down? Are you getting injured? Are you getting exhausted faster? Are your emotions running out of control? How is your ability to raise your heart rate? If you’re having trouble with any of these for more than three days at a time, then you need to take some time off, preferably three days. Once you get back, you’ll be feeling like a million bucks.
Sure, not all of your practice sessions need to be as long as the actual race. However, if you want to make any progress, you still need to run something close to the race distance during your run. If you’re doing a half marathon of 13 miles, then at least 3 runs you do during training need to be 10 miles or more. For the three months before the racing event, try to have at least 3 runs of 80% – 90% of the race distance per week.
In case you’ve never tried either the half marathon or full marathon then I have to tell you right now: shoes are going to a huge factor in your success. You need to know when it’s time to get yourself a new set of kicks. Experts suggest anywhere between 400 and 500 miles as the limit for wear and tear. However, it really all depends on the runner. Whatever you do, make sure the pair of running shoes have works well with your form and your feet. If you can, have gait analysis done, and then keep replacing your shoes as you need to as you lead up to race day. You can easily get a running analysis done at just about any specialty running analysis. They will then recommend the appropriate shoes.
But it’s not just the shoes. The clothes matter too. Chafing is something some marathoners need to think about. Check the expected weather on race day and wear an outfit that is appropriate for it. Make sure you wear that outfit in your training, at least once. It has to be comfortable and, if there are chafe points, generously apply some glide before you go for the race. Once you have a good outfit, wear that very outfit on for maximum comfort.
Know about the race environment
You should be focused on the distance that you’ll be covering for the race. However, you should also think about the terrain of the course from the start of the race to the finish. Think about hills, crowds, bridges, and other such features of your race course. Research them and prepare for them. Let your training ground be as similar to the race course as possible.
Easy days should be easy
This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as I was training for my runs. There are runners out there that will do up to 80% of their training at a slow pace. That’s not easy; it takes courage to do that. You need to have that courage. Run slow and easy when your plan asks you to run slow and easy. Your body and mind will thank you for the break from hard running. It gives you the chance to recover while remaining active. That makes it easier to run hard when it’s time to run hard. Those slow and easy paced runs will make it even easier to run fast and hard when the occasion calls for it.
Let’s talk about pacing for a bit. I can’t count how many times I’ve started out too fast from the start line. The greatest mistake I make on such occasions is thinking that I can somehow keep that pace going, despite the fact that I never hold it in training. Such lofty ambitions often lead to a very exhausted runner somewhere in the middle of the race, or even sooner.
When you train for a race, you do at a certain pace because that’s what works for your body. That’s the exact same pace you should maintain for race day. If you’re not planning on executing that pace on the big day, then why are you training for it?
Food and water
Your food and hydration plan should be tested out early in your preparation and often as you work toward the race. Choose lots of runs on your training calendar and eat and drink the night before and also during the run. Use this to find out what kind of hydration and nutrition works for you. You don’t want issues to do with your stomach on race day.
By practicing your eating and drinking before the race, you give your body the chance to get used to it. Once you find something that works for you, stick to it all the way to race day. Don’t try anything new on the actual day.
Don’t take these mistakes lightly. Avoiding them is going to do a lot more for your success than you know. I certainly learned a lot from them, and I hope you do too. One thing’s for sure: successfully completing that race is going to be one of the best feelings of achievement ever. I sincerely wish you all the best!
Guest post: Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at best essay writing service uk, Dissertation-today.com. She is interested in education technologies, accounting assignment help and is always ready to support informative speaking at pro essay writing service. Follow her on Twitter.