With social media these days it’s easy to talk about only the good things and disguise your life or your training to look perfect. Let’s be honest, we all have some runs that are downright terrible. We all make mistakes in races and running from time to time. We shouldn’t be leaving those out because that is what makes us into the runner we are today! Mistakes help us learn and improve going forward. I still make mistakes, so I wanted to share some from the past with you.
- Always running the same pace. This was a problem for me last year during my marathon training. I always tried to run 8 minute miles for every run, I had a few harder runs but everything else was 8 minute miles regardless of if that felt impossible for me that day. You need variation to avoid overtraining and also easy runs to let your body recover.
- Not believing In yourself. Up until the fall of 2016 I never thought I could run fast, because of that I was holding myself back mentally. When I ran a 5k at my work I realized, I am a decent runner and since then my racing and training has completely changed.
- Comparing yourself to others. This was a hard one for me especially growing up as a twin when you are constantly compared. It’s easy to reach a goal you were striving for and then look on social media and feel inadequate. It’s hard but you have to find ways to celebrate your accomplishments and victories and know that they are amazing because you are on your journey and it shouldn’t be compared to someone else’s!
- Doubting your training on race day. My first ever marathon, I thought I knew what I was doing. I sat on the bus for the start and heard all of these intense runners talk about their training and what they gave up for this race. Wine, all sugar, going out, gluten, the list goes on. I sat there and immediately doubted myself. I clearly didn’t train properly how was I going to make it to the end of the race. What works for others does not always work for you, stay within yourself on race day and trust what you were able to do.
- Eating poorly. This was eye opening for me when my marathon training appetite first hit me in 2015. I thought I could eat anything. Obviously your body needs to recover and needs nourishment but not what I was putting into my body. Running a 20 mile training run doesn’t mean I should refuel with just dessert. I was also on the habit of just eating pasta with no protein. I was stuck in my college habits. Eating food like fruits and vegetables, sweet potatoes, chicken and fish, yogurt improved my training immensely this time around.
- Failing to practice fueling. This is huge for me. I didn’t even practice before my most recent race. I have a really sensitive stomach so normally I wake up and run regardless of how far without eating or drinking. I just get up and go and have never had a problem with it. I also don’t eat or drink while I am out running. This would be different in the summer but winter is easier, you don’t feel as dehydrated. Come race day I started to freak out, I knew I had to take something to avoid bonking. I ended up eating maple sugar candies every six miles and drinking a sip of water at every aid station which was every two miles. Going forward I am really going to practice this one.
- Going out too fast. I have done this so many times I can’t even mention them all. The excitement of race day gets to you and you want to go out as fast as you can and finish with your best time. With shorter races this method could work for you, but as the race distance gets longer it’s more likely that the second half of the race will be a painful struggle. My first couple of marathons I did not have a gps watch so I had no concept of time and I would go out flying, my watch has now allowed me to run a smarter race!
- Not focusing on strengthening your weak points. I know that I need to do a lot of core, hamstring and glute exercises to avoid injury, but I know this because of experience. My first three marathons all I did was run and I made no time for planks, squats or even foam rolling and always ended up injured. Even just adding 10-15 minutes after your runs will make a huge difference!
- Running incorrect paces for you. It’s easy to want to run a pace because someone else is but is that pace right for you? Your easy, moderate and hard paces should be based on your current fitness not someone else’s. Now when I train I try to focus on doing easy runs with friends and other runs alone because I don’t want to worry about one of us running the wrong pace and hurting our training. We can both go out at a comfortable conversational pace and enjoy our time. In the past I ran with some groups that were too fast for me so every run turned into a hard run and soon I was hating running. I thought it would get easier and it never did.
- Being half dedicated to the sport. This was my downfall in high school. I showed promise in running but was never truly devoted to it, soccer was always my sport. However through bad coaches and not great experiences I fell out of love with soccer and now truly wish I had been able to really see what I was capable of in high school running. I think for a lot of people this is the case with running, it’s a form of punishment for other sports so we don’t truly appreciate it until after college or high school. Now that I am 100% dedicated to running and doing what I can to reach my goals, I have been seeing the most success.
- Training without a purpose. This one is personal, some people do amazing keeping up with running even if they have nothing to train for. I don’t. I fall out of my routine and struggle to get back. Even if I sign up for a race that is a year away it will prevent me from falling into that rut and I will make specific workouts for the race. I will run with a purpose.
- Being too afraid to find a coach. I didn’t think I needed a coach I thought I could do it all on my own. I realized that it is so much easier to stay motivated when your workouts are coming from someone else. I am much less likely to put them off or switch them to something easier or make excuses. I also learned SO much about running and training after signing up with a coach. I highly recommend it if you are in a rut or striving for a big goal that you want to make sure you put the right training into.
- Not taking rest days when they are needed. My motivation and perseverance for running can also be my downfall. It is so hard for me to stray from training regardless of what my body says to me. I could have the flu and will want to still run, but that is clearly going to hurt me more than help me. This is one I still have to work on day in and day out.
- Being unaware of how a course is measured. We all have those aggravating moments where we cross the finish line and our watch says 13.25 or 26.4 and wonder why on early the people measured the course wrong. Most likely it was you, not them. Especially if you are running on a curvy course it is good to know that it is the Shortest Possible Route. You want to run the shortest distance from point a to b, this means cutting tangents. Before knowing this I always just followed the curve of the road and went along until I realized my watch would be off from the mile markers and I would blame it on the race.
- NOT ENJOYING IT. You want to run because you love it and because you can. If you start hating it, it’s time to mix it up, take a break, or find something else you truly love. Everyone has days they don’t enjoy running but ultimately they run because they love it. It doesn’t feel like a task, running gives them something. For me running keeps me passionate and motivated. It clears my head and destresses me. I can’t imagine my life without it. If you asked me how I felt about biking I wouldn’t be able to say this.
I am sure there are so many more mistakes I have made that I will think of after this post, but I want you all to know I am not perfect. I will continue to make mistakes in training and racing but they will mold me into hopefully a better runner! My instagram may seem like my training and racing goes perfectly and I don’t struggle at all, but that is not the case!! Sometimes I can’t even get myself out the door 🙂
When I have a moment and realize I am not enjoying running as much I try to sign up for a race with a friend or family member. That usually helps me find the fun in running again, as you can see from the seacoast half marathon in 2015!