Hindsight is 20/20. As I look back on the nearly 14 years that I’ve been running, I want to change a lot of my past training. I’ve made a lot of mistakes – small decisions that resulted in an injury, a poor race, or missing half a year of running.
Fortunately most of those mistakes can be avoided, which is why I’m sharing them here so that you can learn from my mistakes and hopefully avoid the problems that I’ve had to face.
1. Success in Distance Running Takes Time
It takes 2-3 years of training to really reach your potential. You learn to race a specific distance by racing it. To really understand what works and doesn’t work in marathon means you have to train for, and race a few marathons. Distance running success is about consistency and a gradual, yet progressive, pattern of training.
Another problem I’ve faced is going from 20 miles per week to 40 miles per week in a few months. I of course got injured. Be patient and recognize that modest increases in mileage done over a long period of time will have you running fast over the long-term. There are no shortcuts.
2. Runners Don’t Just Run
I used to think that I had to only run to be fast. I ran and ran and ran. I never did any core work, or speed work, or hill work and avoided weights entirely. Huge mistake!
Having the strength to run with proper form is crucial to running success. Here are a few articles to help you out:
- The 4 Best Strength Training Exercises For Runners
- The Ultimate Strength Workout for Runners
- 10 Essential Strength Exercises for Runners
3. Do the Little Things
Doing all the little things matter. Ice when you need it, take a nap after a workout, eat healthy, get enough sleep and listen to all of those small aches and pains before they become big aches. Go buy a foam roller, follow (and stick to) a training plan.
4. Form Matters. Work on it.
Every sport relies on heavily on proper form and technique. Running is no different. Running is a skill, like any other athletic movement and needs to be done efficiently to run fast and prevent injuries.
5. Get Off the Roads
Road running is awesome but there’s something to be said about changing things up every once in a while. With a softer surface you recover sooner from hard workouts and the varied terrain helps build coordination, balance and stabilizing muscles. Plus, trail running is FUN!
In summary: a) be patient b) strength train c) listen to your body d) work on your form and e) hit the woods and trails.
What do you wish you had known when you started running?