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Training mistakes and how to avoid them!

Training mistakes are always made, sometimes we train too hard and get injured or we simply eat too soon before going out for a run! At the start of a new year people set new goals. Often these are things like:  achieve a PB, run my first marathon/triathlon, get active, lose weight and so on. Goals are good, but it’s easy to fall into common mistakes in training which will hamper your goals.

Mistake #1: No strength training

Many just don’t think to include strength training and avoid it because they think they will gain weight or bulk up from it.  This is not true. Not only does strength training keep injuries at bay but it makes you stronger, improves your running form, economy and efficiency. These are just some of the benefits. Consistent training will make you faster. 

Mistake #2: Not allowing enough time to achieve your goal

Good goals take time and good planning. Runners are the worst as they always tend to do too much too soon and cram all their training in a short time-frame. One of the common things I see with people is that they over train; many people believe they need to train every day because if they don’t they will lose their fitness. That’s not the case – rest is key in your training program and to improve your body needs to recover and rebuild to get stronger. This doesn’t need to be a long block of rest, but something like one or two of full rest each week. In 2012 when I couldn’t swim, if I had set a goal for that year to win the European Aquathlon Championships in my age group I would have just got injured and given up.

Mistake #3: No periodisation in your training plan

A good training program will have a recovery structure in place and allow peaks and troughs of training load (periodization). People training all year round don’t get enough recovery weeks in or even a rest from training to rebuild physically and mentally. In my training I have one day rest a week at least, that means no training at all. When I have a big race coming up I taper the weeks leading to the race. At the end of each season I have 2 weeks off training and slowly come back.

Mistake #4: Ignoring injury

Injuries can be hard on you mentally as well as physically.  You just want the injury to get better so you can carry on with what you love doing.

Sometimes a few days rest does the trick. I have even had a week off in the past with injuries and gone on to PB in a race. After a week of no training your fitness will start to drop and if you have two weeks off you do lose a lot of your fitness. However, a common mistake is to jump straight back into training instead of building it back up. The key is to listen to your body.

Mistake #5: Not stretching

Many people do not stretch. Stretching keeps muscles flexible. We need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. This can lead to injuries. I stretch every morning when I wake up, after exercise and every evening before I go to sleep. This should be an important factor in your training and daily activities.

Mistake #6: Overtraining

Most people overtrain at some point –  I have in the past.  It is easy to get fixed on times and having to run a certain pace. Strava titles like “ bad run aborted today” , “pace went well for the first few miles then struggled and dropped off” are a tell-tale sign. A bad run can’t keep happening every day. Hard days should be hard and easy days easy.

My hard days are only twice a week, with the easy days taking up four days of my training. On example: people run their long easy runs too hard –  long runs have a purpose to make you more efficient but you need to run slow. I run nearly two minutes slower per mile then my 5k pace, legs should feel fresh the following day and in theory should be therefore able to train hard the following day.

Doing the slow runs too fast is very common amongst runners as they believe that running faster will make you go faster. That is the case for speed sessions, but if you are running fast all the time the body breaks down and even running at a moderate pace is wrong and hinders your progress. The problem is that running slow isn’t natural for all people!

Mistake #7: Not being flexible with your plan

Doing training because it’s on the plan when you’re not feeling great or unwell is not a good sign. You need to listen to your body, be flexible with training and prepare to adjust. Don’t feel like you have to do it. I have been out for runs where I haven’t felt great so I have stopped, cut short or even run at a slower pace. Daily life can get in the way of training, so be prepared to switch things around. 

Mistake #8: Not being objective about training

Not acknowledging mistakes or being too afraid to switch up training can hold you back.

Lots of people do the same training they did the following year for and expect a PB. Just because you followed a marathon plan one year and it went well, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will improve this time round. The body gets used to training and if you don’t change it around and push yourself you will plateau and perhaps even go backwards.

Copying what others do may not necessarily work work for you either. It’s important to change your training up so that it suits you.

I hope this has helped, these are some common mistakes people make in training, I have done them in the past and it’s important to assess and change your training up regularly. Just because it worked before doesn’t mean it will work again.


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