Runners: Training Mistakes to Avoid
Picture it: You’ve found the perfect place to train for your marathon. You wake up that first morning, slide on your running shoes, and get to it. Not so fast. Training for a marathon is about more than just running, and the proper training is required if you want to see the finish line. As you dive into your training, make sure to avoid these mistakes.
Train Your Brain
When you are training for a marathon, what is the first body part you focus on strengthening? Legs? Arms? Knees? What about your brain? While it might sound silly, it is necessary to strengthen your mind so that it is strong enough to help you push through when things get hard and your body is fighting against you. The truth is, marathons are a physical and mental battle. You must train your inner voice to inspire you, not cripple you. If your inner voice starts telling you that you’ll never finish or that you aren’t good enough, it will slow you down and cloud your focus.
How can you fight back against those negative thoughts? During training, come up with a mantra. Think of it as taking the stillness and relaxation of yoga off the mat. As you repeat the mantra, both your brain and body will respond, and before you know it, you’ll be thinking it without even realizing it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pace Your Mileage
During training, one of the most common mistakes is building up your mileage too quickly. While it is recommended that you increase your mileage by 10 percent each week, there are some situations where it is appropriate to increase more or less. Rather than focus on the percentage and your running mileage, start by determining your baseline mileage. Your baseline mileage is the number of miles you can comfortably run each week without feeling like you’re struggling. When you are working your way up to your baseline, you can increase your mileage more quickly since the miles are still comfortable. Once you begin increasing above your baseline, the safest route is to add mileage conservatively.
The most common training injury results from overuse. Your body needs time to adjust to the increased mileage and wear and tear, so use adaptation weeks to your advantage. When you increase your mileage, repeat the week at least once. It is important to take a recovery week every four to six weeks as well. A recovery week doesn’t mean you should quit running altogether, but rather decrease your mileage and intensity.
Listen to Your Body
While it is common for training to involve following a training plan, don’t prioritize it over how your body feels. Plans are never set in stone, and like other plans you’ve made, there have been times when it was necessary to improvise or make an adjustment. According to three-time Boston marathon winner Uta Pippig, listening to your body will give you the best results. While you might feel the need to train hard and fast, resist the temptation and do what is best for you. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down. Don’t ignore it. The pain won’t go away unless it is addressed, and ignoring it, could sideline you come race day.
Keep in mind that while the actual marathon is a race to the finish, training isn’t. The length of your training cycle will depend on your base fitness level. Elite athletes may be race-ready in 12 weeks while novices may require 18. If you feel like you would be better off taking things a little slower, do it. You are in control.
Getting ready for race day is an exciting journey, so don’t let common mistakes ruin the fun. Train your body and your brain, build up slowly and listen to what your body is telling you to get the most out of your training. When race day hits, you will be prepared and ready to crush it.