In part one of our series we explored several questions that beginning runners and racers may ask themselves. In this, part two, we'll answer how often and how far to run by showing how to keep things simple and avoiding some often made rookie mistakes.
Running too far too quickly
If training for a half or full marathon, the excitement kicks in. That target goal encourages runners to tackle longer runs quickly. The body is not ready for that! Running too far can quickly lead to aches, pains, burn-out, and poor performance.
The best way to ensure success on race day is to follow a plan that starts with your current fitness and mileage levels and gradually builds up both. For example, if your longest run to-date is four miles, then you want to plan for no higher than five miles for your first long run. It may not look exciting, but slow and steady will keep you healthy, fresh, and ready. Progress slowly and steadily and you'll perform better, recover faster, and have fun along the way.
Running too fast
Long distance running training speed stays nearly consistent week to week with a very slow progression. Run at a pace that is conversational! If you can't hold a conversation while running, you're running too fast.
Fueling with too much sugar
Sports drinks, gels, and beans give you energy during runs. Too much of it can cause nausea and stomach upset. The idea is not to completely replace the energy lost while running, but to replenish only just enough of what is lost to make it across the finish line.
Running by pace rather than feel
Paces is only the outcome, not the target. Try to remember to stick with a conversational pace. Factors that can affect your performance are lack of sleep, stress, training from other workouts, and heat. Listen to your body and run at the pace that feels right.
Running too many long runs back-to-back
Once you get into longer mileage runs, you can alternate a longer run one weekend with a shorter run the next. This allows your body time to recover. Running long back-to-back can lead to fatigue and struggling to make it through the day.