Took a lot of heat the other day over my announcement that I'd be using an intermediate marathon training plan to get ready for this fall's New York City Marathon.
In fact, after reading the comments, a co-worker asked me whether I was reconsidering my position, to which I replied defensively (and truthfully): "I know people who've run great marathons without proper training, I know others who've followed appropriate plans to the letter and wound up with injuries." But then I calmed down and reminded myself that I don't necessarily know more or better than anyone else -- and that I do respect the warnings some of you passed along. So ... I'm open to easing up on the mileage and the intensity here and there (especially as life's unexpected twists and turns are almost certain to interrupt the plan once or twice along the way).
Still, bottom line is: I may indeed be making a common running mistake. And while this might drive some of you crazy -- especially if you're an experienced athlete and/or a student of the sport -- I hope some of you out there can find it in yourselves to appreciate the fact that I'm a real runner with real issues. I'm not trying to be pretentious, I'm not trying to be holier than thou. I'm just a dude who runs, who sometimes gets it right and sometimes gets it wrong. Anyway, thanks for sticking with me.
Thought it'd be appropriate (and ironic!) to leave you this afternoon with a list of some of the most common running mistakes, according to Christine Luff at About.com:
- Wrong shoes: Wearing old running shoes or wearing the wrong type of running shoes for your foot and running style can lead to running injuries.
- Too much, too soon: Many runners, especially people who are new to running, make the "terrible too's" mistake. They get so excited and enthused about their running that they do too much mileage, too fast, too soon. They mistakenly think that "more is better" when it comes to running. As a result, they often start to develop common overuse running injuries, such as shin splints, runner's knee, or ITB syndrome.
- Overstriding: One of the most common injury-causing running form mistakes is overstriding, or landing heel first with your foot well ahead of your body's center of gravity. Some runners assume that a longer stride will improve their speed or running efficiency, but that's not the case. Overstriding wastes energy since it means you're braking with each foot strike.
- Losing control on hills: When running downhill, some people have a tendency to lean way too far forward, overstride, and run out of control.
- Bad upper body form: Some runners swing their arms side-to-side, which makes you more likely to slouch and not breathe as efficiently. Some beginners have a tendency to hold their hands way up by their chest, especially as they get tired. You'll actually get more tired by holding your arms that way and you'll start to feel tightness and tension in your shoulders and neck.
- Not drinking enough: Many runners underestimate how much fluid they lose during runs and don't drink enough. As a result, they suffer from dehydration, which can be detrimental to your performance and health.
- Wrong clothes: Some runners wear the wrong type or too much or too little clothing for the weather conditions, leaving them uncomfortable and at risk for heat-related or cold weather-related illnesses.
- Overtraining: Some runners who are training for specific races or certain goals run too hard, run too many miles, and don't allow for proper recovery time. Overtraining is the leading cause of injury and burnout for runners.
- Going out too fast: When it comes to running long distance races, one of the biggest rookie mistakes is going out too fast in the beginning of the race. Most runners have at least one story about a race when they felt so great during the first few miles that they ran ahead of pace, only to crash and burn during the final miles.
- Not fueling properly: Many beginning runners underestimate the importance of nutrition, for both their running performance and their overall health. What and when you eat before, during, and after your runs has a huge effect on your performance and recovery.
So, we all know what mistake I'm most guilty of. What about you? Which of these mistakes have you made/do you make? Come on, you can admit it: Which of these problems plagues you most? Or ... is there something else?