When I ran my first mile three years ago my only goal was not to stop. I also intended it to only be 1 mile. I never expected to run it very fast and I never thought I’d go over a mile. But I was in a Fitness Challenge with a mom’s workout group, surrounded by runners… And I’ve decided it’s just contagious. I quickly made a 5K goal for myself.
As a beginner runner I made a few major mistakes.
1. I Broke the 10-Percent Rule
- To increase your milage safely, and decrease your chances of injury, you should only run 10% further than the week before. For example, if you ran 3 miles last week, you should only run 3.3 this week.
When I began making race goals for myself I was so excited I just went out and started running. I did not do any research on how much or how far I should run. I didn’t hire a coach or find a program online, I just went out and ran. I mean it sounded so easy, you want to run further, you just go out and run further! I had no idea that I was setting myself up for failure. Not mentally but physically.
- As I learned in Physical Therapy 6 months after I began running– there is a 10-Percent Rule.
- My body began to break down because I was not increasing my milage correctly. And then I ended up injuring myself and going to Physical Therapy and I had to take 6-weeks off in the middle of my training.
2. I Didn’t Research Running Nutrition
- You need nutrition during a run, especially when you begin increasing your milage past a 5K.
- I would hit “a wall.” When you hit a wall when doing any workout, you feel like you can’t finish. All of a sudden you feel like you just can’t take another step, you might slow way off your goal pace, or find you’re extremely hungry or thirsty.
- There are many options out there to fuel your body before, during, and after your run. I talk about these in my post Tips for Beginners on Fueling Your Body for Race Training.
It’s important to realize that you are burning A LOT of calories when you are running and as you increase your milage your body needs to refuel in order to keep your goal pace and go further. When I began running I had never done any activity out of a gym and did not realize that there are a whole new set of requirements to make sure your body performs at the level you wish it to.
3. I Didn’t Stretch!
- This is SO simple and even seasoned runners make this mistake.
- It is important to stretch every day.
- Yoga a few times a week is wonderful and my Physical Therapist recommends 45 minutes twice a week to develop overall body strength and flexibility.
- Stretching will not only make you a stronger athlete but will also prevent injuries.
What I did Right:
- I went to a running store and got fitted for a running shoe.
- I found out I was wearing a sneaker a whole size too small and that I needed a shoe that would correct the way I landed while running. I highly recommend getting fitted for a running shoe before increasing your milage.
- Most importantly– I found a group of friends to run with!
- Having accountability when you have to wake up at 5 am was key to my success! I still need to meet someone for a run to make myself go do it. Plus, it’s amazing how fast a long run will go when you are talking to a friend. All of a sudden you don’t realize you’re running faster, going further, and actually looking forward to that Saturday morning run.