Race season is here, friends! Whether you’ve just signed up for your first 5K or are tackling a half marathon a few months down the road, committing to yourself and setting fitness goals is something to be celebrated.
However, if you’re not careful, you could make some major mistakes that could affect you and your body for the worse in the long term. Make your next race your best race by avoiding these 8 common training mistakes.
1. Not training Whether this is your first half marathon or your fifth 5K, skipping out on training is a bad call. Training helps your body build up strength and become accustomed to the change in activity levels.
2. Choosing the wrong bottom It wasn’t until my third or fourth road race that I came to learn about sweat wicking material and appreciate pricier, more comfortable running bottoms. When it comes to the gear you train and race in, you want to hunt for a bottom that’s functional and won’t leave you chaffed. (Hey, we’ve all been there.) Sure, a pair of $6.99 cotton capris may be great for your wallet, but since cotton is such an absorbent fabric, it becomes more abrasive as it sucks up fluids.
3. Hydration-shmydration It may be easy to forget the water break, but getting enough H20 is critical for performance and overall health. Even mild dehydration can shift moods increase anxiety, and affect work quality.
4. Going it alone Signing up for a race is a big deal, and can be super intimidating if done solo. A team of scientists at University of Oxford found that exercise classes or going for a run with a friend will make you feel better than working out alone. Besides, those weekend training runs are the perfect time to gossip about the latest episode of Real Housewives.
5. Neglecting your feet Are you an over-pronator or an under-pronator? Does your foot supinate? Do you have absolutely NO idea what any of those terms mean?Don’t worry: You’re not alone. Before you start any form of training, it’s critical to get your feet looked to prevent any major damage. The way your foot naturally strikes the ground determines which kind of sneaker you need for your stride. Head to a running specific shoe store where you can get help determining the best kicks for you.
6. Fueling the Wrong Way Training for a race involves much more than just pounding the pavement. The right foods for your race will provide energy for runs and recover, electrolytes, and essential nutrients. Jeff Galloway, a former Olympian and author of Marathon: You Can Do It suggests all runners do a reality check on their nutrition with an app or site, such as MyFitnessPal, to make sure your macronutrient needs are being met.“People swear they’re eating enough nutrients but aren’t,” says Galloway. “It’s a surprise for a lot of people.”
7. Forgetting the foam Foam rolling may look silly and pointless, but it’s super easy and perhaps the most beneficial thing you can do during training. Rolling your sore muscles back and forth on the foam targets your myofascia — the mesh-like fibers that form around your muscles in response to damage caused by both working out too much (inflammation, injury) and not working out enough (inactivity).
8. Forgetting the taper When you’re stoked about a race, it’s easy to train right up to the last minute. However, Janet Hamilton, MA, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at Running Strong in Atlanta praises the importance of winding down training. “One of the best gifts you can give yourself is well-rested legs on race day,” says Hamilton. Even Olympic athletes know when it’s time to take things down a notch. Leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games, Michael Phelps revealed that he spent an hour MAX in the pool each day despite the excitement.
Have you signed up for any local summer races? Share your training advice in the comments!