- Starting out too fast. Going all out in the beginning may work for some runners – especially during shorter distance events — but most of us do better running negative or even splits. Negative splitting means you start off a race slower than goal pace and make up for lost time as you go on – this approach helps you finish a race feeling strong. To keep yourself from getting caught up in race day hype and sprinting out of the gate, wear a GPS watch so you can rein in the pace if it gets out of hand. Or try repeating a mantra to help you keep it slow.
- Skimping on sleep. The average adult needs around seven hours of sleep per night. During the peak of training, you may need even more shut-eye. Not getting enough sleep can weaken your immune system and impair your recovery time and performance. Aim to be in bed at least seven hours before you alarm is set to go off.
- Consulting Dr. Google. If you have knee pain, one of the first things you’ll probably do is Google something along the lines of “runner knee pain”. Don’t count on WebMD or a running blogger to accurately diagnose what’s ailing you. If you have more than just general aches and pains, and rest and ice isn’t helping, see your doctor. Only a checkup by a real, in-person doctor can get to the bottom of your injury.
- Not taking enough time off. If you get sick or hurt in the middle of training, it can be unsettling to take some unplanned rest days. But it’s always better to rest than push it when you’re not feeling 100 percent. Regular rest days are critical to recovery, and unscheduled rest days don’t always hurt either.
- Refueling improperly. Your next run’s success depends on what you did immediately following your last run. Refueling with the right foods within the right window of time can help your body replenish glycogen stores and repair muscles, so you’ll feel even stronger during your next workout. Refuel within 30 minutes to one hour of finishing up. Choose a snack that’s high in carbohydrates and contains a small amount of protein, like low-fat chocolate milk or whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter and sliced banana.
- Skipping the sunscreen. Outdoor athletes, like runners, have an increased risk of skin cancer. Unless you’re running on a treadmill, you need to cover yourself with sunscreen before every run. Note that 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate through clouds and fog, so lather up everyday to be safe.
- Not switching things up. Do you always train the same way and run approximately the same race times? If you have big PR dreams, you’ll need to tweak your training in order to achieve them. Try following a different type of training plan, preferably one with regular speed workouts.