- Wore the “wrong” shoes or shoes that should be retired.
- Got overly confident and did too many miles, too soon.
- Skipped rest/recovery days.
- Ate poorly or forgot to hydrate.
- Tried to power through (or ignore) an injury.
- Went out way too fast at the beginning of a distance race.
- Tried something new (fuel, shoes, gear, clothing) on a long run with unpleasant results.
Hand still in the air? If so, take heart. You’re not alone. Google “common mistakes runners make,” and it turns out there are almost as many gaffes and blunders as there are 5K races and medal designs. In the eight years since I bought my first pair of running shoes, I’ve made most (okay, all) of them. It’s all good, though. Mistakes translate to lessons learned.
So, here are the things I’ve learned from more experienced runners, a coach, and my own experience: Trust professionals at a good running store to fit you for shoes (thank you, Brian and Rob). Buy two pairs of shoes and rotate wear during training so your shoes will still have some miles left in them come race day. Increase weekly mileage by no more than 10%. If you miss too many runs, ease back in—repeat a previous week’s distance(s). Plan rest days—even active rest days, when your goal is to not run. Eat a healthy diet and pay attention to the timing of when you eat in relation to your run. During races, take on fuel and/or water before you feel you need it. Have a strategy. Seek help for niggling pains that don’t subside with rest. Dial it back at the beginning of a race. Take advantage of pace groups in distance races. Even if you don’t want to run with them, run between or behind them to keep your pace in check. “Audition” everything before a race and do nothing you haven’t tried out in your training. No new fuel. No new gear. Do a slow 1-2 mile warm-up (thanks, Coach Ebersole, for this life-changing wisdom).
Thinking that running clubs are intimidating or just for the fast.
They are not. There’s a pace for everyone. You’ll meet some of the most welcoming, inspiring people. Trust me on this.
Thinking that running coaches are just for the young, the lean, and the speedy.
A running coach can help you reach your goals, however modest or lofty. Though I’m a self-proclaimed slow runner, a coach’s quality workouts helped me reach my sub-9-minute-mile dream, my dream. My goal was no less important to the coach than the dream of an Olympic hopeful. We’re all trying to be our best selves, and a coach can help.
Forgetting that running is a “gift” not to be taken for granted.
I’ve spent a lot of time in memory care/dementia facilities in the past three years. Many of the residents have lost their balance or mobility, and worse. This reminds me—as the t-shirts at race expos proclaim—“there may come a day when I cannot run. Today is not that day.” That—that—is a gift.
Judy Hasselkus has run the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon or Half Marathon every year since its inception. She subscribes to this philosophy: “You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” Judy is an associate with Greenstreet Ltd., a member of Indy Runners, and serves on the Pike Y Center Advisory Board.