Ten training sins you should avoid

1. October 2019

Running injuries are frequently not just bad luck but could have been avoided in many cases. The most important tips for healthy running.

You’re in good shape. You’ve been preparing for your major goal for a long time – and all of a sudden you get a twinge in your calf and it’s over, finished, you have to quit the competition. Instead of running your first marathon as planned, you’re left with nothing, an injured calf and a huge disappointment. Unfortunately, this situation is not rare for runners spending months preparing for a major goal. However, it is one that could have been avoided in the majority of cases.

1. Too great an increase in scope

Two months to go until your major goal. You feel great and increase the number of your running units from three to five. Even if your mind and cardiovascular system go along with the additional effort, there's a high risk that your ligaments and tendons will not be able to cope with the increase in volume and you’ll end up developing overload symptoms. Suddenly your Achilles tendon is inflamed, the sole of the foot hurts or you get a twinge in your calf muscle.

Tip: Only increase the number of running units slowly and gradually and scale them down again in the immediate run-up to the competition. At the beginning, keep your additional training units relatively short and do them at a lower level of intensity at first. And constantly incorporate a week in which you run a lot less often than usual to allow your body to recover.

2. No variation

The classic «hobby jogger case»: you always run the same distance at the same pace. And wonder why you’re not getting faster.

Tip: Diversify the duration as well as the intensity. Basic rule: 75% of your training units should focus on basic training and last for 45 to 90 minutes. And only around 25% of the units should focus on intensive training. The duration of each training load should roughly lie between 10 and 30 minutes for units with a high level of intensity and 30 and 90 minutes for units with a medium level of intensity. Long jogs of up to two hours, or even 3 hours for marathon aspirants can be integrated as you see fit.

3. Runner’s guilt

Likewise a classic: your guilty conscience the last few weeks. However, overcompensating to make up for the training you’ve missed is not a good idea.

Tip: Trust in the plan you drew up at the beginning of the training period and follow it through with the «courage to leave gaps». If you can do the proposed running training according to plan, rest assured that you can achieve the finishing time in the competition. All that is called for in the days before the competition is “movement therapy”. No one has never been too well rested at the starting line – plenty, however, have been too tired.

4. Lack of recovery

In contrast to the professionals, amateur runners usually have less time to recover. But it is precisely the fast units that need a sufficient level of recovery in order for you to complete them.

Tip: Don’t just plan your training but your recovery too and integrate fixed times for this in your everyday life. Treat yourself to a regular massage or sauna session. Or lie down for a few minutes after a training unit before you throw yourself into your work again. Training AND recovery belong together like the ebb and flow of tides.

5. Inappropriate shoes

If you run with bad or worn-out running shoes, firstly, you will have less fun and secondly, you’ll run the risk of developing problems with your musculoskeletal system.

Tip: The shoes must be tailored to your feet and running style. You should therefore ask for advice in a specialist shop and not be tempted to follow the fashion trend and buy lightweight designer shoes online. Ideally, you should alternate between two or three models. This will ensure that the muscles are challenged in many different ways.

6. Only running

You notch up kilometre after kilometre but there is no time for supplementary measures.

Tip: Running is a complex matter, a mix of the factors: endurance, strength, flexibility, coordination, and speed. An athletic program and gymnastics exercises (preferably at least twice a week) will ensure that you remain injury-free, are better able to cope with each individual training unit and also remain physically and mentally fit in everyday life.

7. Running the hard way

«Pain is temporary – glory lasts forever». Such heroic catch phrases entice a lot of athletes. However, doing a lot doesn’t usually achieve as much as you might think.

Tip: Among endurance athletes, runners are the most vulnerable when it comes to injuries. Take the signs from your body seriously at an early stage and give it a break, if needed. The body normally rewards rest periods with an increase in performance. By the way: you can also train your heart in the water or on your bike from time to time and thus protect your musculoskeletal system.

8. Too fast too far

It’s true that long runs or so-called long jogs are “life insurance” when it comes to successful long-distance runs or marathons. But at the same time, you need to work your way round to getting used to them.

Tip: Increase your longest unit to date by a maximum of 15 minutes each week and deliberately keep the level of intensity very low. Only once you are at the point where you can do relaxed runs of around two to three hours can you attempt to increase the intensity. For example, at 90% of your marathon pace or a continuous sprint run (crescendo run). You should generally not run for longer than three hours, even if the marathon takes significantly longer for you. The benefits of longer units are not proportional to the risk of injury, especially for amateur runners.

9. False ambition

Does the 4-hour mark in the marathon or the 90-minute mark in the half marathon tempt you? Then it is important to honestly assess your performance capability and not deceive yourself.

Tip: Run according to your current level of performance and not your desired time. You will thus have the assurance that you can gradually improve. At some point the desired time will become a reality.

10. Dealing with too many things at once

You like running in competitions but you don’t actually have the time.

Tip: Bring structure into your training: set yourself two major goals each year and prepare for them with three to maximum four competitions. After the competitions, take a week off to recover and only run intensively again once one day has elapsed for every two race kilometres.