minutes per mile blog

5 biggest running mistakes of my life

Good morning! I’m on a plane this morning (this post will publish when I land!) so don’t have any sunrise run photos for you. BUT I did get a workout in last night — with more than 100 other women!0113151902aTracee, Mary, and I checked out b.fab.funk again. This Zumba/boot camp mix is SO fun — and so cheap! Only $3 for an hour-long dance party. (Read my full review here)

Thanks for the workout, ladies!0113152010
The other day I had a thought about all of the big running mistakes I’ve made in my life. Like I shared in my running story, I definitely didn’t know what I was doing (and still sometimes don’t — ha!) during the first five or so years I started running. So — in hopes that maybe I can help you avoid making the same errors I have — here are my top 5 running mistakes to date!!

1. Not strength training. I think I went to the gym about five times total during my first five years of running. When I met Anthony (fun fact —  he used to be a personal trainer!) and hired a coach during 2010-2013, that all changed. I started doing more stuff like yoga, pilates, boot camps, TRX, kickboxing, and even dabbled in CrossFit for a while. I still go to the gym once or twice a week, and am convinced it’s what’s helped me become a faster and less injury-prone runner (remember when I had that nasty hip injury a few years ago?).1205140647a

2. Not figuring out my nutrition. It took me years to finally figure out what to eat before a run and before a race. After battling stomach problems and bonking out during a marathon when I didn’t fuel enough, I realized that I needed to get my act together and make a plan about eating/drinking before a run. I can’t tell you how important it is to make sure you’re hydrated and ready on race day! There’s nothing worse than training hard and then seeing it all fall apart on race day because you didn’t eat the right Gu at the right time, like I did in the Gettysburg North-South Marathon._DSC00883. Not bringing throwaway clothes. I can think of two marathons — The American Discovery Trail Marathon and the Boston Marathon — where I was absolutely freezing at the start line. Major mistake, and a major waste of energy! I was okay during the trail race (in Colorado), but in Boston it totally backfired and I felt like crap the entire run. Check the weather on race day and bring plenty of throwaway clothes to toss at the start line. For super-early races (and races at elevation), it can be 15-20 degrees cooler at the start of the race than at the end.

4. Listening to music. I know this is a controversial one, but I think that for me, music is a mistake. Not listening to music makes me a more attentive runner — mostly in terms of listening to my body and feeling the pace, but also in terms of safety. Nashville doesn’t have the best-lit sidewalks and I consider my ears an important asset to have on early-morning runs. :)DSC01521

5. Putting quantity over quality. I used to run a lot more than I do now — I think my highest volume training week peaked at about 80 miles a few years ago. Not only did such high mileage lead to burn out and injury, but it also didn’t make me faster at all. When I hired a coach, he totally emphasized that I focus on the quality of miles over quantity of miles. At first I was skeptical, but after setting PRs in every distance, I’m a big believer in training smart over training long.track
Lessons learned!

  • What’s the biggest running mistake you’ve ever made?
  • Last time you hopped on a plane? Where did you go?
  • Biggest fitness class (in terms of number of people) you’ve ever been to?
  • 10 thoughts on “5 biggest running mistakes of my life

    1. Great advice! I’m still working on nutrition! My first marathon – wearing too much can backfire too. By the end I was overheated, it was warm outside and I wanted it to be OVER. Now I just wear my shorts at every marathon because I know I’ll be warm even if it’s super cold at the start.

    2. The lack of strength training and cross training is definitely my biggest “opps” in terms of running. Although I would say it didn’t matter much when I just ran 5/10K’s at first – it hit me big time once I moved to the half and full marathon distance AND got faster in the 5K. I ended up with a few injuries this year. So – right now I’m focusing on building up my strength before piling on the mileage again.

      I am also guilty of too much too soon – I learned all about that after a stress fracture. I stuck by the 10% rule for marathon training and surprise, nothing bad happened :-)

    3. This is so spot on! I’ve made all these mistakes and I’m trying to correct them. Music is a biggie! I used it for rhythm. But triathlons don’t allow any headphones at any time so I’m getting used to running without music and I have to say, I am really starting to like it!

      In early 2014 I was training for the OKC Memorial Marathon and strength training had the single greatest impact on my increased speed and ability to last longer into a marathon. I wasn’t getting fatigued until deep into the run (around mile 17 or so).

      Still, my biggest problem is the nutrition issue. I’m STILL trying to figure it out! Hopefully 2015 will be the year I get it right!

    4. I think quality over quantity is SO important! It kills me when I see people running 80+ weeks for marathon training. My body just can’t handle that!

      I also am still working on my fueling situation. That’s probably the hardest for me!

    5. Thanks for sharing!! That Zumba class looks like a blast! My biggest running mistake was not training for my first ever half marathon AND wearing Nike Shox while running it. Not good! 😀

    6. Through running I’ve learned that my worst runs typically occur when I don’t get enough sleep, so I have made getting enough hours in bed a priority before my long runs.

    7. I think my biggest mistake was this past year trying to get too fast too quickly. It’s easy to self-impose pressure to try to be as “good” as the other runners I see. I know I can get faster, I just need to be a little more conservative.

      I also avoided strength training at first, too. It finally clicked when we happened to do some exercises in class for the hips and my ITBS went away! It had just never occurred to me that I could use the gym to keep injuries away.