Some Running Mistakes I’ve Made

After Saturday’s race, I was bumming pretty hard. I was upset with myself, frustrated with my health, and just plain old discouraged because my running wasn’t what it used to be. Thankfully, I had two wonderful runner friends, who assured me I could get back to where I used to be with some hard work.

go_run

While struggling through the 10K this past weekend, I kept thinking about what went wrong and how I got so off track with my running. I used to love running and do it all the time. When CrossFit came into my life, things obviously changed, and running took a backseat. Of course, it’s perfectly okay to fall in and out of love with certain activities from time-to-time, but I’m bummed””even a bit surprised””about how much my running abilities have declined.

The day after the race (Sunday), I went for a run. I grabbed my music, Timex GPS Watch, and set out to run 3 miles. I didn’t have any expectations for this run. I really just wanted to zone out and remember what I loved so much about running.

back at it running

Within minutes, my mind started to wander, and I thought about the ZOOMA 10K and how awful I felt during it. (Heat is one thing, but being out of (running) shape is another.) My thoughts eventually led me to all of the “mistakes” I’ve made related to running. Fortunately, these mistakes made me realize why I ran such a bad race last weekend and what I need to do if I want to improve my running. With that said, here are some of the running mistakes I’ve made along with some new goals to help me get back on track.

Doing too much too soon.

I’m the queen of doing too much too soon when it comes to running. I get all motivated, register for a race, and then create a super ambitious training plan, which inevitably leads to an injury because I over-train and/or don’t slowly build up my mileage.

New goal: Build mileage slowly and allow for rest days between runs.

Relying on other people too much.

I love running with other people (I’m a dog runner), but I was relying on running buddies too much to get me out the door for a run. Sure, it’s easier to get your butt in gear when you have someone waiting for you, but I relied too much on these perfect running buddy situations instead of just going out and running on my own.

New goal: Plan a mix of friend-runs and solo-runs each week.

Impulsively registering for races.

I love having a race on my calendar to keep me motivated, but I often registered for a race before I’ve even started training. I’m sure this strategy works for some people, but I’ve lost a lot of money on races I’ve never run. Plus, registering for races before I’m physically ready encourages that “too much too soon” behavior that I am guilty of.

New goal: Do some running and then register for a race.

Not running for myself.

I first started running in college as a way to relieve stress. I’d throw on my sneakers, grab my Walkman (yup), and head out for a few miles around campus. Even when I was having the worst day ever, a run always made me feel better. In recent times, however, I stopped running for myself. I was running for a certain time, a PR, or because my friends were running too. I guess I lost that love for running somewhere along the way.

New goal: Download some new tunes (music and running go hand-in-hand for me) and fall in love with running again.

Obsessing over time.

Similar to “not running for myself,” I spent a lot of energy obsessing over my time. I love setting goals for myself and working to achieve them, but I was focusing too much on my time””constantly looking down at my watch to check my pace, getting frustrated if I had a slow run or didn’t PR at a race. Basically, obsessing over time took some of the fun out of running for me.

New goal: Run “naked” (without a watch) for at least one run per week.

Having unrealistic expectations.

There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations for yourself, but mine were sometimes a bit unrealistic. Three half marathons in three weeks? Um, not smart. Obviously, I got injured.

New goal: Aim high, but be smart. Also, listen to my body. No need to be a hero.

Question of the Day

What running/fitness mistakes have you made over the years? How have you learned from them?

97 Comments

  1. Power walk instead of running,there was a white paper done from the Mayo clinic saying that runners have a high chance for micro tears in the heart.

  2. Biggest mistake: doing too much too soon without warming up ever! That led to a stress fracture and an inflammed IT band which I’m STILL recovering from… with a half marathon in 18 days!!!

  3. I’ve made two mistakes this Spring/Summer when training for my 1/2’s, but I learned from them and made the necessary changes that they didn’t happen again. I also confided in friends, for words of advice and support. It all helped. My two mistakes: overtrain and dehydration. Live and learn and be patient! 🙂

  4. Love this post Tina! I think more people need to take a step back and remember what made them fall in love with running in the first place…myself included! 🙂

  5. Ya know, my first race EVER was at the beginning May, and I’d signed up for it in December. I figured, that was enough time for me to finish C25K and work up some speed. I got lazy and didn’t do ANYTHING. I “ran” it anyway. It was mostly a walk, but I was proud that I’d finished in under an hour. It gave me hope for another race (Glow Run in August!). I’m training now, and looking forward to my next race. 🙂

  6. I’m glad you posted this, I’ve really been struggling with my running lately and feeling very discouraged. I think my biggest mistakes was having too high expectations. I’ve been off from running regularly for a very long time and I wanted to just jump back in and run several miles at my old pace. I got really frustrated when that didn’t happen. I have to remember to run for myself, not worry about how fast I go and remember why I fell in love with running so very long ago.

  7. I’ve had the problem of obsessing over time as well. I live up north and spend 5 months per year running indoors on a treadmill. Because I can set a speed and not mess with it, I tend to run faster and turn better times on the treadmill than I do outside, even if I’m doing interval training. Then spring comes, I get excited to go outside and run, then get bummed because I’m not replicating my gym numbers. I’m determined this year just to get outside and run naturally, not worrying about speed and times.

  8. Thanks for this post! I ended up reading it just as I came in after a run where I didn’t feel all that great. Sometimes it’s so nice to know that someone is frustrated with the same thing you are. Misery loves company, right? haha, but seriously, falling back in love with running is what I have been working on for the past month and let me tell you that it is most definitely working. For me, awesome music and no watch sometimes are the absolute key. For the love of the run!

  9. My running mistakes usually involve running myself into the ground and getting burnt out. I think its easy to make running mistakes because there are so many ways to approach running. It’s accessible, it can be easy, it can be done alone and with minimal equipment and no instruction. Pretty much opens the door and invites mistakes right in. Love your healthy attitude about it, and can empathize with the feeling of having lost touch with it and wanting to get back into the running groove.

  10. I used to not rest at all! I was running like 6 days per week, at least 3-4 miles per day and I was killing my body…Now I think I may rest too much, but it’s better than trying to kill myself running 🙂

  11. Awesome post! Thank you so much, for sharing!! Your blog is what turned me on to running & this post was fantastic.

  12. Thanks for the insightful post. Running “naked” is a great idea. I find myself checking out the time far too often and it interferes with the meditative state I am trying to achieving. Also, the tip about building your running abilities slowly is very important. These are all great pieces of advice that I will keep in mind as I start training.

  13. I’ve definitely tried to do too much too soon.

    My biggest lesson was learning about needing to do proper stretching and a proper warm up. I used to just start running without a warm up and it wasn’t good especially since I never stretched after and injured myself as a result.

  14. OH I am in your same boat!!
    I always do to much to soon, with little running!
    I workout at gppfitness.com and LOVE the workouts there everyday and also teach a few les mills programs so running hasn’t been my number one priority.. I actually just got back from running across the GRAND CANYON.. 26 miles in one LONG day with 11k of elevation change.. with maybe TWO trail runs that were only about 5 miles MAYBE long for training… haha! Talk about to much to fast. lol.
    I got blisters on the down hill and still had about 20 miles ahead of me to go. It was TOUGH!
    I came home and now committed to actually run.. since I have a half next weekend.. erk.
    WHY do we do this?!

  15. My biggest mistake is comparing myself to my friends. I was in much better shape, but over the past few years, I’ve gotten slower. I’m now the slowest out of my friends and I sometimes stress over running races with them. I just need to run my own pace and not worry about anyone else!

  16. I had a watch and got rid of it when I found myself obsessing over my time. Now I only use the Map My Run app. I put it in my spibelt and usually won’t look at it until I am done with my run. I am more focused on tracking my mileage instead of my pace. This has made running so much more fun and has taken tons of pressure off. I’ve also started alternating days between weights, or yoga, and running. The balance has helped me enjoy these activities so much more. Glad to see you get back into running!

  17. It was SO hot on Saturday. So hot. I live in Baltimore and I only ran 7 miles on a pretty non-hilly area and was dying. I can’t imagine being in Annapolis. I’m from that area and I know its pretty hilly! Whew! Don’t base it off of that run. No one was prepared for that heat all of a sudden! Better days ahead! 😀

  18. I’ve definitely made my share of mistakes over the years. And agree with you about not setting expectations on yourself regarding pace. I used to get so frustrated and upset if I didn’t PR every race. In my thought process I should constantly be improving and if I’m not then I’m taking steps backwards. I finally realized the old adage of “shit happens”. No run is ever going to be exactly the same. There are so many variables to consider. So rather than just preaching my mantra of “finishing is winning”, I had to actually practice it! (whoa!) And you know what– since coming to that realization, I’ve PR’d at every run since then. It’s crazy how mental running can be!

    Take care!!

  19. If you want to work on getting stronger this summer I highly recommend you check out the November Project workouts. Great group (lots of Crossfitters), and their workouts will greatly improve your speed and strength. Oh, and it’s free!

      1. @Tina: The Monday workout moves around (they announce it on Fridays via Twitter), and Fridays are in Brookline, near Coolidge Corner. There is also a “brunch run” on Sundays.

  20. Doing too much too soon is one of my biggest mistakes too! It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of where you can see yourself going that you put to get there a little too fast.

  21. Over training or running junk miles was my biggest mistake. I am much happier/better runner now that I incorporate strength training and yoga in my training plans.

  22. Thanks for sharing Tina! My biggest running mistake was not applying sunscreen to my legs while running the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon; however, that mistake potentially saved my life. I may also be increasing my mileage too quickly, but I’m not a 100%. If there is any advice you can give on that, it would be appreciated!

  23. I’m so happy your wrote this post, Tina! Worrying too much and letting my head get in the way are my biggest running mistakes. Also, comparing myself to others running abilities. Doing any of those is a sure way to get me down and stop running. Lately, I’ve just been running at whatever speed I feel like at that moment. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast. When it comes down to it, I’m running and that’s all that matters!

  24. I was nodding my head and “Like”, “Like”, “Like” -ing, the entire way through this post. New tunes AND new gear (fresh sneaks, a neon top or some Lulu inspire crops – TREAT YOSELF!) can always get that motivation and inspiration flowing!

  25. I can totally relate to the “obessing over time”. Ever since I got a Garmin, I obsess over my stats and it has totally taken the fun out of running! It’s great that I am pushing myself more (I am always competing with myself to be better and faster), but it makes me not want to run as much because they are always “hard runs”.

  26. Funny, I posted a similar blog today! I am definitely guilty of “too much too soon” and registering before I run. I’ve decided to skip the fall half marathon this year and just work on building a good base for now. I might do one in the spring, IF I’m ready for it!
    ~Ang

  27. Pingback: Friday Randomness
  28. Tina, I read your post after my third tough run this week. I took a break from running after running a marathon, a half marathon and an ultra relay last year and now I’m back into training for the BAA 10K. The so-so runs have kind of brought me down, but reading your post made me feel better. Like you, I fell in love with running as a way to be alone and work through stress. Now I find that I only really run with my fiance and we are quite different in terms of speed and determination so the runs aren’t really for ME anymore. I need to take your advice and run once or twice by myself. Thanks for the timely post!

  29. Hi Tina – I am a huge fan of your blog. If I don’t read it every day I catch up in the mornings before diving into work – just like yesterday 🙂 Anyway, after signing up for the Chicago Marathon last year I hurt my knee and gave up halfway through. I wasn’t putting training first as my life was starting a new phase (all good things, but changes nonetheless). I’ve never been able to get back to my old ways. I’ve been trying to go out and run for an hour like I used to do.every.single.day. Yesterday I read this blog post and decided I’d go run 1 good mile and see how I felt. Well, I was able to do more than that but I took my time and practiced my fundamentals. It wasn’t much of a run but I’m still on a high from it. SO THANK YOU for your advice! I’m hoping to keep this up this summer and get back to the old Meg.

  30. The very last race I did was a 9 mile trail race and the first 1.5 miles were AWFUL and I remember considering quitting and going home and eating pancakes. After that 1.5 I was pretty down, but I kept repeating to myself, “run your own race” and every time I’d see another runner and I’d want to chase and pass them I had to remind myself to just ignore them and do my thing. It worked and I finished proud.

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