Top 5 Training Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them, by Chris Twiggs, Galloway Training Director

Spring is here, and that means runners all over the country are coming out of hibernation and eying those summer and fall races they want to target. No matter how many years we’ve been running or how many races we’ve done, there are still some mistakes we may be prone to.

1 – Avoiding the Magic Mile

Jeff Galloway has given us a great tool to determine how fast to run our long runs, race rehearsal runs, and speed workouts. It’s called the Magic Mile, and when we we know our MM time, we can run with a plan. When we don’t have a recent (or any) MM, we are just running by feel, which sometimes can get us into trouble.

Solution: Run a Magic Mile every 4 to 6 weeks and check the MM calculator at Jeffgalloway.com to see your recommended paces and run/walk ratios.

2 – Running the long ones too fast

Whether we let our friends set the pace or we “just feel good” when starting out on our long runs, it can be easy to fall into the trap of running these too fast. The long run should be at least 2 minutes per mile slower than race pace. You can’t be hurt by running the long ones too slow, but running them too fast means you won’t be as recovered as necessary for the rest of your training.

Solution: Know your long run pace based on your Magic Mile prediction and don’t let anything pull you faster.

3 – Cutting the long run too short 

A marathon or half-marathon is a long way to run. Those who are best prepared for the distance will have the most fun during the race, but many runners balk at doing 14 miles in training for a half-marathon or 26 in training for a marathon. Whether they have difficulty carving out enough time for the long ones or they want to “save the real distance for race day,” they will be more likely to “hit the wall” because their bodies are not ready for the demands of the distance.

Solution: Put the long runs on your schedule months in advance, and protect those days like you would an important appointment so there’s less chance you’ll be tempted to skimp on the distance.

4 – Not listening to your body when it needs to rest

Small aches and pains come with the territory, not the territory of running, but the territory of living. Not everything calls for time off from running, but when something is affecting your gate (the way you run) or is causing you to feel lethargic, you need some extra time off. Whether the condition was caused by running or some other stress like work, continuing to push yourself when your body needs rest can lead to injury.

Solution: Turn a run day into a walk day. Get out and enjoy the fresh air without any worry about how fast you are going. Even if you have to miss a long run, walking that same distance will give you the endurance you need. If you don’t feel better in a couple of days, see your family doctor.

5 – Ignoring nutrition

On race day you will have your socks picked out, your shoes well tested, and the rest of your outfit just right. You will have done the long ones and honed your pace if you have a time goal, but what will you have done for nutrition? If you haven’t practiced what you will have for dinner the night before, breakfast race morning, and during the race, you are ignoring an important factor that will impact your race day experience.

Solution: Use your long run weekends to practice race weekend nutrition, right down to the flavor of sports drink you intend to use. If something isn’t going to work for you, better to find out a month before race day than when it’s all out there on public display