Runners World Articles: Archives
Make Every Run Great
Recently, I was listening to Dr. Laura Schlessinger's radio program.
Yes, the relationship expert. What can I say? The woman makes me
Well, this particular day she was discussing stupid things people
do to mess up their relationships. As I listened, I realized what
she said had a lot to do with running. What follows is my version-10
things runners do to mess up their workouts.
1. Opening up your stride. Chances are you overextend
your stride at the end of races and on downhills. Not only does
this fatigue your leg muscles quickly, it can lead to injury as
well. Instead, pick up speed by shortening your stride, staying
light on your feet and increasing leg turnover.
2. Not resting enough. The day after a hard workout,
you may be tempted to train even harder. Beware! Just when you're
motivated to push to new limits, you're also most prone to getting
injured. Take a day off from running, or at least go very easy the
day after a long or hard run (especially a race).
3. Resting too much. Some runners prolong their
recovery by taking two to four weeks off after completing their
marathon. After this much inactivity, most runners find it hard
to get back into the groove. Unless you're injured, you'll recover
faster and maintain a better attitude by taking liberal walking
breaks during a 30- to 45-minute run every other day-even during
the week after the marathon. Do this for up to a month after your
4. Overdressing. You should feel slightly chilled
when you start running on a cool day. If you bundle up until you're
toasty warm, you'll be too hot by the end of the first mile.
5. Not having a goal. Even a small goal will get
you running on days when you're just not in the mood. Pick a local
race. Or schedule a short trip to a great running area with some
friends and celebrate your workout with a pizza afterward.
6. Aiming too high. Choose a goal that's within
reach. Instead of trying to run a minute faster than you did last
year, shoot for 10 seconds faster than you ran a month ago.
7. Going solo. Your long runs and races will become
more enjoyable if you have a group of runners to share them with.
Think of your long runs as extended social time with your running
group. Includes jokes, juicy stories and controversial issues. Go
out for postrun pancakes. Carpool to races.
8. Eating too much or not enough. If you don't
eat at least a little food before and during long runs, your blood
sugar will crash, and so will you. On the other hand, most runners
know that consuming too much food too soon before a run can trigger
side stitches, nausea, and even runner's trots. You may have to
experiment a bit, but eating about 250 calories an hour or two before
the run will usually keep your energy up for 60 to 90 minutes.
9. Starting too fast. People often mess up their
races and workouts by starting out too fast. Even running 10 seconds
per mile too fast at the beginning can force you to slow down by
20 to 30 seconds per mile at the end. It's better to do the opposite:
Start 10 to 20 seconds per mile slower than goal pace, and then
pick up the pace by running 20 to 30 seconds per mile faster during
the last miles of the race.
10. Telling yourself you can't. When you're tired
or stressed, it's easy to invoke that four-letter word "can't."
Once you say you can't, running will feel harder than ever. Instead,
whisper "I can" and remind yourself that running is the best way
to feel revived and reduce stress. Believe in yourself. Yes, you
World, July 1999, p. 42
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