Let’s face it: training to run 13.1 miles is no easy thing, especially if you have never covered this distance before. There are many different approaches to half marathon training and no clear “right” or “wrong” way to approach it. There are a lot of variables, but it’s also easy to fall into bad patterns and simple mistakes during your training program. Here’s a look at some of the more common mistakes that beginners make and some advice on how to correct them.
Most new runners often make the mistake of piling on mileage way too fast. There’s a lot of excitement in the early days, once you’ve decided to start training and committed to the goal of finishing a half marathon. Inexperienced runners often start training without even building up a base during the pre-training phase, which usually leads to soreness in their shins or knees. If these aches and sores are ignored, the runner will not be able to complete their training. It is important that you be aware of any warning signs and the manner in which you treat them. You have to be smart and start out easy. Injury can keep you from achieving your goal. The simplest way to avoid injury is to start slowly and follow a pre-planned half marathon training program. Stick to it and avoid the temptation of covering too many miles too quickly.
Most runners usually suffer from dehydration because they greatly underestimate how much water their body needs during training. It is important that you keep your body well-hydrated during long runs. As a general rule of thumb, you should consume 3-6 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes during your runs. For very long runs, including races, consume more water if you’re feeling thirsty. For runs over an hour in length, you should alternate between water and a sports drink, which will help replenish sodium in your body. To get an even better sense of how much liquid you need to consume during a run, you can weigh yourself before and after running. This will help you get your body weight back to where it was before the training phase began.
3. Lack of knowledge
Most new runners often decide they want to run a half marathon and just start running. They do not do any research, prepare a schedule or seek advice; they simply just start running. They tend to think that getting in shape for a half marathon involves only running, which is not the case. It is important that you educate yourself before you begin any sort of training. You should not fail because of ignorance. Conducting proper research, having a suitable schedule and speaking to other experienced runners can help you avoid any injuries or failure.
4. Starting too fast
In most cases, new runners begin their training well but end-up feeling that they can run many more miles or hours contrary to their schedule. When training for a half marathon, the program you have is there for a reason. Most professional trainers will tell you that there is logic behind gradually increasing your mileage each week. You have to resist the urge of wanting to do more than you should. When you go that extra mile or hour, you are increasing you chances of injury. Stick to the program you have and you will achieve your goal.
5. Wrong training program
This relates to goal-setting. Most runners follow a program that is highly difficult because they want to achieve more within a certain time. This usually leads to injury since your body cannot handle the program. Because of such exhausting programs, runners end-up quitting. The type of training program you have in place has to be practical and effective.
6. Not stretching
Most new runners usually don’t stretch before and after training. They often find themselves having sore and tight muscles, which results in injury. You should never ignore the importance of stretching. Runners should stretch within the first 15 minutes before and after a race. Benefits of stretching include things such as less soreness, longer strides, greater flexibility and much more.
7. Having no rest days
Every runner has to have a training program that is inclusive of rest days. These are the days when you engage in easy cross-training activities or take a complete day off from your training regimen. Allowing your body to take a rest from the training program reduces the risk of injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures. In addition, it is good to take a mental break from running. This will help you to stay motivated and encouraged. Overtraining does more harm than good, so always try to avoid it.
8. Setting the wrong goals
In most cases, new runners set a marathon finish time goal. However, this is not advisable. The goal you set for your first half marathon should be simply to finish the race. Pushing yourself too much can dramatically increase the likelihood of injury even before the marathon itself. You have to be smart and set the right goals.
For most new runners, a lot of things tend to come up during the training phase, which usually causes them to lose the motivation they need. You will probably miss a run or two during training because of various reasons. However, you should never lose sight of your goal. It is important that you see each situation as being positive. In order to stay motivated, you should remind yourself of the feeling that you get when you achieve your goal.
10. Not believing in yourself
In most cases, new runners find it very difficult to complete the first 5 miles of the run. They usually don’t see how they can possibly run more than that and participating in a half marathon seems scary. At this point, it is very easy for you to give up. However, it is important that you believe in yourself. This is only way you can achieve your goals.
11. No support system
Most new runners don’t share their goals with their family, friends or co-workers. This is because they are afraid of what they will say. However, telling somebody about what you intend to do is actually a good thing. It will provide you with that extra motivation. Most people are often supportive; all you have to do is tell them you are training for a half marathon. You don’t have to keep them constantly updated of your progress, but you can keep them informed. Running a marathon involves some levels of emotions and having a support system can help you achieve your goal. Encouragement from your loved ones can help you with your training much more than you think.
Running a half marathon is definitely not easy. It takes courage, hard work and determination. Without these key elements, you are most likely not to succeed. Even if you make some mistakes when training, you can always work on them and be better. Each runner has at one point or another made a mistake during their training phase. The best thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and work on them.